Like it or not, flexible workplaces are the future

While flexible working is a growing trend, many businesses are reluctant to embrace it. But with this trend set to become even more widespread, those businesses who fail to adapt will struggle.
8 May 2018

Organizations of all kinds are beginning to embrace flexibility in the workplace. Source: Shutterstock

Many businesses across varying industries have embraced the ever-increasing demand for flexible work policies in the workplace. According to freelancing platform Upwork’s Future Workforce Report, almost two-thirds of companies now have full-time employees who work outside the office.

Despite the growing trend of flexible workplaces, many businesses are fighting against these changes. According to the aforementioned report, 57 percent of organizations currently lack any sort of remote work policy.

Though a proportion of this amount can be explained by careers where in-person work is crucial – such as healthcare – the percentage nonetheless indicates that many managers executives are reluctant to adapt to this changing workforce trend.

But why? Many business leaders seem to build barriers when it comes to embracing flexibility in the workplace due to fears of it not being right for their business model and leading to a lack of control.

Yet, by dismissing flexible work, these leaders are actually putting their organizations at a disadvantage.

Work flexibility and talent shortage

In today’s increasingly competitive talent climate, businesses must think beyond geographical boundaries to gain an advantage. With the majority of the US workforce expected to be freelancing by 2027, it is becoming vital for companies to embrace flexible work practices- or else face a risk of missing out on top talent.

Talent shortages – especially in the tech sector – are spurring many professionals who possess these skills to demand for flexible work. As such, those organizations that refuse to adapt will have a challenging time trying to recruit top talent.

Increased business productivity

In addition to missing out on the very best talent, businesses who dismiss the idea of a flexible workforce may also be hindering productivity and engagement.

It has been proved by many studies that allowing your employees to have more freedom with where they work leads to increased productivity.

According to studies, not only are remote workers more productive, they are also happier. Source: Shutterstock

One study reported by Harvard Business Review found that remote workers were more productive and loyal than their in-office colleagues.

Employees at a call center were given the opportunity to work from home for nine months. The employees that carried out their work at home completed 13.5 percent more calls than the staff in the office did. This equated to almost a whole extra workday a week!

Furthermore, these employees also quit at half the rate of the office-based workers and also reported a much higher job satisfaction.

Technology addresses the challenges of work flexibility

Adopting a flexible workforce does not come without its cons, of course. Among them are the loss of in-person interactions and weakened communication and collaboration among employees. But this should not deter organizations from embracing a remote workforce and reaping the benefits that come with one.

Advancements in technology have greatly facilitated the growth in remote working. Such technologies have enabled companies to foster a culture of communication and collaboration even with workers who are based in a different country.

With the help of digital platforms, communication and collaboration is made easy in a flexible workforce. Source: Shutterstock

There is now a wide range of digital communication and collaboration tools available, such as Slack and Trello, which allow for real-time conversations, easy file-sharing, and the ability to seamlessly collaborate on projects at any time and at any place.

 Is it time to update your flexible-working policies?

Millenials are leading the way in the freelance workforce, with almost half of working millennials (47 percent) working freelance. This is a participation rate higher than any other generation.

What does this mean for your business? With the freelancing and the flexible-work trend growing so popular, organizations have little choice but to embrace and grow with the movement.

With Generation Z entering the workforce, it is inevitable that the demand for flexible work options will only become more widespread. So, if you want to remain competitive in your industry and attract top talent, it’s time to open your arms to welcome the flexible work economy.