We’ve seen the importance workplace flexibility has on attracting and retaining workers, but to drive this point further home, here are the top five flexibility trends uncovered by FlexJobs in 2018. FlexJobs also provides two predictions about workplace flexibility in 2019, that employers and recruiters should keep in mind.
1. Employment Scams Have Doubled Just in the Last Year.
This year—2018—has seen a strong job market that favors jobseekers and is leaving employers scrambling to find talent. The U.S. has a historically low unemployment rate (3.7%), more open jobs than professionals to fill them, and more people quitting their jobs than any time in the last 17 years.
Because of the strong job market, the Better Business Bureau says work-from-home job scams and other fraudulent employment schemes have skyrocketed in the last year. According to Sarah O’Brien at CNBC, “This year through October, more than 3,700 incidents were reported across the country, more than double the 1,800 or so recorded during the same time last year.”
2. The Number of People Who Say They’ve Quit a Job that Wasn’t Flexible Enough Has More Than Doubled.
In 2014, FlexJobs surveyed professionals seeking flexible jobs and found that 13% of them had quit a previous job because it lacked flexibility. In 2018, the company again conducted its annual survey on flexible and remote work and found that number has more than doubled! Now, 31% of people surveyed say they’ve quit a job that wasn’t flexible.
This is down just slightly from 2017, when 34% of those surveyed said they’d quit an inflexible job. In addition, 17% were currently looking for a new job that was more flexible, and 13% had considered leaving an inflexible job but decided to stay.
3. Pay and Benefits Have Increased Across the Board in the Last Year.
According to a pay and benefits report by MarketWatch, private-sector wages and salaries grew 3.1% between September 2017 and 2018, the largest rate of growth since 2008.
Of course, the increases vary depending on job type, industry, location, and more factors. For example, “increases in compensation over the last 12 months ranged from 1.9% for workers in manufacturing to 4.8% for those in information services such as media, public relations, and entertainment.”
4. Digital Nomads May Not Be Who You Think They Are.
FlexJobs surveyed over 500 digital nomads about key topics related to their digital nomad career, lifestyle, and work style. The results of the digital nomad survey challenged some of the conceptions we see about who digital nomads are and offers a fascinating look at this nomadic remote lifestyle.
According to those surveyed, the profile of the average digital nomad is a married female Gen-Xer who is an experienced employee working at a company at least 40 hours a week in the writing, education, and training, or administrative career fields. She has health insurance, is saving for retirement, and has a bachelor’s degree or higher.
The top 10 career fields for digital nomads surveyed were:
- Education and Training
- Customer Service
- Art & Creative
- Computer and IT
- Data Entry
- Project Management
In the media, the “typical digital nomad” is characterized as a man rather than a woman, yet according to this survey, 70% of digital nomads are women. And nomads are often portrayed as freelancers or solopreneurs, or young professionals backpacking across Europe, or tech startup founders living the dream. It turns out, they’re more likely to be employees working for one company, just like most of us!
5. More Freelancers are Finding Jobs Online and Working Remotely.
Sixty-seven percent of freelancers report that the amount of work they’ve gotten online has increased in the last year, and 64% of freelancers found work online, up 22 points since 2014 according to the “Freelancing in America: 2018” report.
The percentage of freelancers who earn $75,000 or more annually has increased by 15 points since 2014. According to FlexJobs job posting data, the top 10 freelance career fields are:
- Computer and IT
- Accounting and Finance
- HR and Recruiting
- Editing, Proofreading, and Writing
- Project Management
- Data Entry
- Research Analysis
- Software Development
- Technical Support
Predictions Related to Work Flexibility and the Future Workforce
1. Automation will lead to a shift in the workforce away from traditional work and towards freelance and remote work. According to the World Economic Forum’s “Future of Jobs 2018” report, nearly 50% of companies think automation will lead to a reduction in full-time workers as early as 2022, but 38% expect to extend their workforce to new productivity-enhancing roles.
In particular, companies stated they expect to “expand their use of contractors doing task-specialized work” and “engage workers in a more flexible manner,” including remote workers.
While it sounds like the number of jobs may be reduced, the report actually found the opposite: there will be more jobs, just in different fields. “One set of estimates indicates that 75 million jobs may be displaced…while 133 million new roles may emerge that are more adapted to the new division of labour between humans, machines, and algorithms.”
2. Employees will feel the effects of the changing workforce more than leadership and managers, so they should prepare now. Deloitte Consulting surveyed organizations to find out their thoughts on the future of work, including artificial intelligence, the changing nature of careers, diversity, and generational change, technology, and when, where, and how work gets done.
While the organizations differed about which aspects of the future of work they might prioritize, they agreed that employees—not managers or leaders—are likely to feel the biggest impact from the changes the organizations will make in coming years. Of those surveyed, 32% said employees will be most impacted, followed by leadership (21%), customers (9%), and managers (6%).
While it remains to be seen whether or not these predictions come true, one thing is certain, flexible work arrangements are a key to attracting and retaining talent. However, hiring freelance or remote workers can also solve your immediate talent needs, by temporarily filling the void to help handle specific projects or tasks.