HR Management & Compliance

Can I Work Anywhere Besides at Work?

A recent study shows that the overwhelming majority of workers want to work anywhere besides at work.

Only 7% of workers say the office—during traditional work hours—is their location of choice for optimum productivity on work-related projects, reports a recent FlexJobs survey of more than 3,000 respondents. More than half (51%) of people reported that their home is their preferred place to work.

Eight percent said they would choose a coffee shop, coworking space, library, or other place besides the office, and another 8% would choose the office, but only outside regular hours. Twenty-six percent go to the office during regular hours to complete important work only because it’s not an option to go elsewhere.

According to FlexJobs’ survey, 65% of workers think they would be more productive telecommuting than working in a traditional workplace. The top reasons people are—or would be—more productive working at home versus the office include:

  • Fewer interruptions from colleagues (76%),
  • Fewer distractions (75%), and
  • Less frequent meetings (69%).

It’s estimated that up to 6 hours a day are lost on work interruptions, wasting 28 billion hours a year. Other reasons people prefer their home office include a reduction in office politics (68%), reduced stress from commuting (67%), and a more comfortable office environment (51%).

“When the overwhelming majority of workers say that traditional office spaces are not conducive to inspiring their highest levels of productivity, something is clearly broken—certainly with the actual workplace environment, but more importantly with the corporate culture that isn’t addressing this problem,” said Sara Sutton Fell, founder and CEO of FlexJobs, in a press release.

Fell added, “Employers who continue to blindly reinforce antiquated ways of working are going to find themselves with lower performing, less engaged, and less happy employees, whereas those who explore more flexible workplace arrangements such as telecommuting and flexible schedule options are taking advantage of a great competitive opportunity for their company.”

Additional key findings of the FlexJobs survey include:

Work Flexibility Benefits Diverse Audiences

Work flexibility appeals to diverse audiences and demographics for a wide variety of reasons.

  • Respondents represent various demographics: working parents (39%), freelancers (26%), introverts (21%), entrepreneurs (20%), and caretakers (16%).
  • Other notable audiences include traveler/digital nomad (11%), disabled or managing a chronic illness (11%), student (9%), environmentalist (4.4%), and military spouse (2%).
  • Respondents also span generations: Gen Z (1%), Millennial/Gen Y (22%), Gen X (45%), Baby Boomer (27%), and the Silent Generation (5%).
  • Work flexibility appeals to highly educated and experienced workers. Eighty percent of respondents have a college or graduate degree, and 32% are senior manager level or higher.
  • Fifty-eight percent of people work because they want to travel, up from 30% from 2014.
  • Other important factors for working include wanting to pay for basic necessities (80%), pay off debt (59%), have a professional impact in the world (41%), contribute to charity (28%), and pay for continuing education for themselves (25%).

Interest in Work Flexibility Is High

Respondents place an extremely high value on work flexibility:

  • Work flexibility (80%) was ranked the most important job factor when evaluating a job prospect.
  • Work/life balance and salary tied as the second most important factor (74%), ranked well above other factors such as health insurance (43%), company reputation (41%), and 401(k)/retirement benefits (31%).
  • 33% have actually left a job because it did not have work flexibility.
  • 14% have considered leaving a job because it did not have work flexibility.
  • 18% are currently looking for a new job because of work flexibility issues.

Employer Benefits

Employees report being willing to make bottom-line saving sacrifices in exchange for telecommuting options:

  • 29% of respondents said they would take a 10% or 20% cut in pay.
  • 22% are willing to forfeit vacation time.
  • 15% said they would give up employer-matching retirement contributions.
  • 81% of respondents also say they would be more loyal to their employers if they had flexible work options.

Tomorrow we’ll look at some of the other benefits of flexible work situations.

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