Many companies are seeing the benefits of flexible work and increasing their efforts to offer it to employees. Beyond those myriad examples, a few entire industries are poised to benefit wide swaths of the workforce by exploring opportunities in flex. Standing out in particular are: the news media, Silicon Valley tech companies, and the legal profession.
News media and work flexibility
The news business has long had a strong freelance component to it, with newspapers, radio stations, television news broadcasts, and media websites seeking content from non-employees to “feed the beast.”
However, the 24-7 news cycle fuels an always-on, all-in mentality which comes with risks of overwork and burnout, and also makes it impossible for people to juggle work and personal commitments.
Katherine Goldstein recently wrote about the need for more flex in the news business in an article for NiemanReports. While she starts with a focus what news organizations need to do to keep women in particular on the job, her suggestions apply to all workers (especially as more millennials enter the workforce):
- Offer paid maternity leave. “A start for all news organizations would be to offer a blanket 12 weeks of gender-neutral paid leave, without forcing employees to use vacation and sick time to reach that number,” Goldstein writes.
- Give fathers and non-birth partners paid family leave, with newsroom leaders setting the example by taking that leave when they can.
- Create official work-from-home and flex policies. “Studies have shown that when flexible policies are thought out and well-adopted, they can improve productivity and reduce stress,” Goldstein writes. “Codifying flexibility can also help attract and retain millennial talent.”
- Prioritize work-life balance for everyone, no matter what role they play in the organization.
Flexible work advocates would respond to those four ideas with a heartfelt, “Yes, yes, yes, and yes!”
Tech and work flexibility
Companies that call Silicon Valley home are known for offering interesting perks to compete for the brightest, most talented developers. They are not, however, known for being flexible.
A recent LinkedIn article from Stephane Kasriel, CEO at Upwork, says it’s time for the tide to shift, and argues that Silicon Valley businesses should start hiring people from outside the big coastal cities—and not asking them to move.
“If they’re willing to actually look, companies can locate top talent well outside the same crowded cities where they keep desperately hunting within limited, competitive local pools,” he writes. “Some top knowledge workers actually want to leave major hubs for smaller towns and rural areas where their dollars will go further—they just haven’t found employers that will let them.
“Maybe that means a Seattle company recruiting new, remote hires in small cities undergoing surprising tech booms, like tiny Bozeman, Montana. Or maybe it just means letting a top performer leave headquarters to keep doing her job remotely from someplace else.”
Making such a move has the potential to help not only tech businesses and workers, but also the economies of America’s rural areas. That’s a win in so many ways.
The legal profession and work flexibility
While it may seem like a less obvious fit, a growing number of large law firms are opting to give work flexibility a shot in order to retain their best workers, attract millennials, and improve work-life balance.
According to an article in The American Lawyer, the large law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius announced a work-from-home policy during the spring. Its move was quickly followed by similar efforts from the law firms Jackson Lewis and Baker McKenzie.
The Baker McKenzie program, known as bAgile, offers remote working and alternative hours for all of its employees, not just lawyers, across its North America offices. That firm’s chief talent officer, Peter May, told The American Lawyer that the need for flex work was expressed by employees of all kinds and all generations.
“The millennials want flexible working for a set of reasons, but frankly, so do people who have been working for 20 years,” May said in the article. “If you’re in your late 40s and 50s, you can be caught between all sorts of different responsibilities.”
By helping workers deal with those challenges in their personal lives, these law firms are finding that they end up with employees who are more productive and engaged. Again, it’s a great outcome for everyone.
A win-win across the board
While these three industries are quite different, they are all seeing the benefits of offering more flexibility. And those same advantages translate easily into other types of businesses, as well.
What specific industries do you believe are poised to benefit from offering more flexibility? How will that help companies, workers, and the economies of different geographic areas? Please share your ideas in the comments.
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