Performance Management Blog

Workplace Flexibility has a lot in store for both employees and employers. Are you game?
Workplace Flexibility has a lot in store for both employees and employers. Are you game?

Offices have changed forever!

Organizations no longer see employees spending five-day, 40-hour weeks in physical office set-ups. Workplace flexibility has gained prominence since 2020, and it is here to stay.

The beginning of the office-to-home transition struck fast and hard. Employees craved to return to workplaces due to their inability to balance work and life. Bosses secretly admired these employees as their workplace commitment showed signs of loyalty and team spirit. But 2 years down the line, the scenario changed. Employees got adjusted to the new virtual set-up. They started seeing the merits of working from anywhere, not having the hassles and costs of a commute, and figured out ways to have a healthy balance. The virtual setup made life easier for many people.

Now, with the vaccines in place, when most bosses want their employees back to the office, they are finding serious resistance. Employees’ willingness to continue working from home is so much so that they don’t want to go back to the old paradigm. A 2021 study by GoodHire found that 61% of survey respondents are willing to take a pay cut to maintain remote working status.

 

Workplace flexibility – What started as a necessity (due to social distancing) soon became a choice!

 45% of Americans would prefer quitting their job or starting a remote-work job search, immediately, in case employers mandate return-to-office full-time (GoodHire).

A major IBM study found that 54% of employees would prefer to work remotely full time, 75% would like to work from home at least part-time, and 40% strongly believe employers should give their staff the choice of working remotely.

Pew Research Center found that 17% more employees say that their relocation is a primary reason why they’re currently working remotely and would prefer continuing to do so. And,

  • 60% of workers with jobs that are possible to do remotely say that they would want to continue working remotely even after the coronavirus outbreak comes to a standstill.
  • 78% of employees working mostly or entirely from home say they’d like to continue to do so after the pandemic.

Axios shows that 11 million jobs are open in America. If a company forces people to return to the office, they’ll prefer looking for a job at companies offering remote work. Reasons such as not wanting to commute gain more and more preference over meeting colleagues on a daily basis.

 

SOME bosses are concerned about employee productivity in work from anywhere, 

but there is no reason for that! Research clearly shows that productivity is often higher when employees are permitted to work from home.

Airtasker surveyed full-time employees and found:

  • Remote employees work an additional 1.4 more days per month than in-office employees, which is nearly 17 additional workdays a year.
  • Office workers are unproductive for an average of 37 minutes a day, not including lunch or breaks, whereas remote employees are unproductive for only 27 minutes.
  • 15% of remote workers said their boss distracted them from work, which is less than the 22% of office-based employees who said the same thing.

 

Thousands of organizations have realized the benefits of workplace flexibility.

Companies such as Nationwide Insurance, Pinterest, Coinbase, Dropbox have already permanently switched to remote-first working. Others are willing to do without physical workplaces and have fully remote employees. A Gartner survey of 317 CFOs and finance leaders revealed that:

  • 74% plan to move at least 5% of their previously on-site employees to permanently remote positions post-COVID 19.
  • Nearly a quarter want at least 20% of on-site employees to switch to permanent remote work.
  • Over 5% say they’d like at least half of their employees to work remotely going forward.

 

Clearly, remote work is here to stay, and many organizations have profitably made the shift.

Then why are some managers still in denial and willing to keep the pre-virus status quo?

What most did not expect has happened. Big Time and permanently.

In the pre-pandemic world, the workday goal often seemed focused on how steadfastly employees labored throughout their time in the office. Employees’ physical presence made a difference even if they spent half the time on social media. From their on-site vantage point, managers could view the hustle and bustle that felt as though the environment was alive. Observing a good mix of introverts and extroverts gave them several perspectives such as witnessing the constant struggle of some employees to stand out while others would never want to get noticed.

Now that the world has gone behind screens, employees are out of sight. It’s a dark remote world where managers are not feeling the same sense of power. They no more have control over employee’s time. There are no swipe-ins and swipe-outs to keep a tab on work hours. The boss can’t randomly walk into employees’ homes to check if they are working. They cannot raise concerns if an employee loses internet connectivity or if there is a software problem. That’s normal, right?

Regardless of these concerns, the idea is to increase productivity and performance, and that’s happening with or without employees working for long hours.

 

Workplace flexibility – An Organizational shift

A leadership mindset shift is required if employers wish to stay relevant or even profitable these days. In this digital-savvy world, a remote set-up has a lot to offer. With concepts such as Metaverse in place, employers can only imagine the opportunities a digital environment might bring.

According to Forbes, workplace flexibility enables:

  • 40% fewer quality defects
  • 41% lower absenteeism
  • 54% of people are willing to shift to jobs with more flexibility
  • Savings of an average of $11,000 per year per part-time telecommuter
  • 21% higher profitability

Prioritizing the remote-work revolution will be a wise decision for organizations that are able to offer jobs that can be done from anywhere. It makes sense for organizations to embrace the new culture wholeheartedly, paving the path for better productivity, performance, engagement, retention, and profitability.

As a company focused on supporting managers and leaders in their roles to better engage and involve their employees, we at PMC wonder what you are seeing as your biggest issue(s) in working with your remote employees/teams and how are you able to respond, accordingly, for a successful path forward?

Engage, engage, engage is a key strategy to keeping good employees. Get their active involvement in workplace improvement ideas; they all have them.

Communicate, communicate, communicate seems to be an essential mantra in ensuring that workplace flexibility can be a viable situation for your organization. Remote working is here to stay!

 

One last thought:

Those people most likely to leave an organization are generally those in the top half of the performance curve, the ones who are most productive and probably better learners. The ones in the bottom half do not have these same skillsets and are less likely to be better performers in the future. Do you really want to lose your better performers over those who are less productive? Choose to do something different if the situation warrants it.

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PMC provides proven tools to help involve and engage people for workplace improvement; tools that supervisors can use for innovation and active workplace involvement. If you’d like to learn more, we’re here to support you.

Joan Simmerman

Joan has been involved with PMC since 1986 and has enjoyed being part of the creative process of helping to market and support PMC’s products being used and appreciated by people and organizations in over 40 countries and excited about introducing our new virtual tools for team and workplace improvement.

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