Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
– Ferris Bueller, 1986
The workplace moves pretty fast, too. Human resources specialists of Ferris Bueller’s time probably couldn’t imagine today’s workforce. Back in the 1980s, independent contractors, contingent workers, and part-time workers were largely seen as supplemental to the main workforce of full-time employees – or as unwanted but necessary cost-cutting measures – and telecommuting and flextime were barely on the radar.
But today, employers across a wide variety of industries and locations are adopting alternatives to staffing their workforces with full-time employees. In fact, according to Ardent Partners’ The State of Contingent Workforce Management 2016-2017: Adapting to a New World of Work, nearly 38 percent of the world’s total workforce is now considered “nonemployee.” This represents an increase of almost 10 percent over the previous year and about a 30 percent increase in the use of such workers over the last five years.
If your company is not among the organizations willing to consider these formerly “alternative” employment options, you could be missing out – because today’s most desirable employees are increasingly demanding them. They place a higher value on achieving a satisfying work-life balance than earlier generations of employees.
And it’s not just millennials who feel this way. Workers of all ages can find themselves in the so-called “sandwich generation,” shouldering responsibility for the care of both their children and their parents. With cloud computing, Wi-Fi networks, collaborative workspaces like WeWork, and other tools facilitating 24/7 work from anywhere, employees don’t feel like it’s a lot to ask for employers to offer a new way to work.
Consider these potential benefits for employers:
- Expanded hours of service or productivity.
- More efficient use of the work facility.
- Reduced need for expensive workspace.
- More efficient use of human resources.
- Greater ability to attract and retain workers from all over.
- Accommodation for employees with disabilities.
- Cost reductions.
- Reduced absenteeism.
- Increased employee productivity.
- Enhanced morale and motivation.
What Employees Crave
A 2017 study conducted by HR platform Justworks and commercial real estate company SquareFoot found that employees cite flexible work hours and remote capabilities as critical factors in the workplace, even more important than unlimited time off. Seventy percent of employees surveyed ranked flexible work hours as very important and 68 percent said they believe flexible hours have a positive impact on their teams. Similarly, 57 percent feel remote capabilities are very important, while 60 percent believe remote work has a positive impact on their teams.
Flexible hours and remote work are becoming a must-have perk for employers competing for talent, according to the study. Seventy-six percent of employers surveyed said they believe flexible and remote work options have a big impact on their ability to hire. Those beliefs are supported by findings that 63 percent of employees surveyed work at companies that offer flexible work hours, and 59 percent work at companies with remote work capabilities.
The study concludes that “[b]usinesses are seeing a shift to a workforce that believes productivity should be measured not by number of hours worked at a desk, but by the output of the work performed. As this trend continues, flexibility will likely define the new normal for the modern workforce.”