Talent

If You No Longer Offer Flexible Working Arrangements, You May Be at a Disadvantage

Following trends can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it. If you followed IBM’s lead and stopped your flexible working arrangements, you may now be at a disadvantage for recruiting workers.

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Companies vary greatly in their willingness to allow employees flexibility in their work, as well as in how that flexibility manifests itself—from working from home all the time, with unlimited paid time off (PTO), to flex work and the ability to work from home on certain days or on a certain number of days per month.
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.

Flawed Assumptions

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. And if your competition offers candidates the opportunity to work from home, you may be missing out on top talent.