There are as many variations of flexible workplaces as there are workplaces. Some places allow working from home once a week, or all the time, or when earned, or not at all—for example.
While many employees see this kind of flexibility as a big benefit, employers often have mixed opinions. Some see such flexibility as a way to promote employee satisfaction and aid in recruiting talent. Others see it as a contributor to reduced productivity and collaboration.
Remote Work Leads to Innovation
In a news release, the Flex+Strategy Group (FSG) cites data from their research, which shows that flexibility “in where, when and how you work—including remote work—leads to innovation, as well as communication, creativity, productivity and engagement.”
They point to this research as evidence that companies like IBM that have moved away from more flexible work arrangements in order to improve innovation and collaboration may have missed the mark.
FSG’s research casts doubt on some companies’ assumption that greater flexibility leads to reduced communication, creativity, productivity, and engagement and suggests, in fact, that the reality may be just the opposite.
“Of those who do work flexibly, 45 percent feel that flexibility increases their ability to ‘communicate, create and innovate with colleagues.’ Only 5 percent report a decrease, with 49 percent saying it remains the same,” according to the release.
FSG argues that lack of training for remote workers is the main culprit, reporting that, “[w]hile almost all employees report having some degree of work flexibility, the majority (57%) receive no training or guidance on how to manage it.”
By and large, most employees would probably relish the chance at greater flexibility in their employment; however, employers are a bit more divided. While the data from FSG suggest flexibility has many benefits for employers, much likely depends on the nature of the business and the staff themselves.
When it comes to offering flexibility, there is no one-size-fits-all approach.