For a long, long time (and if we’re honest, even right now, too), many employers had the notion that flexible work was one-sided. If an in-office employee asked to work from home for any one of a variety of reasons (they had to take care of children/aging parents/found it difficult and/or time consuming to commute into an office), most employers might have thought that allowing that employee to work remotely was a perk for being a good worker with no benefit to the company as a whole.
According to the Entrepreneur article, “The Biggest Work Trend You’re Unintentionally Ignoring,” this thinking still pervades the workplace. In a recent survey by FlexJobs and WorldatWork, a paltry 3 percent of companies were trying to assess the importance of flexible work as it related to the company. 1 Million for Work Flexibility Founder and FlexJobs CEO Sara Sutton stated: “It says loudly and clearly that employers and management believe flexible work only benefits the employee; they don’t even think it will benefit the broader organization.”
Sure, flexible work benefits employees. It allows them to ditch hellish commutes, saves them money on said commuting costs, office attire, lunches, and a whole lot more. However, remote work is also highly beneficial for employers. Not only does a company stand to save, on average, about $11,000 annually per remote worker (these savings are calculated from factors such as reduced office space or none at all, utility costs, office equipment, and so on), but they also stand to gain huge benefits that money can’t buy. For starters, studies have shown ad nauseum that remote workers are far more productive than traditional office employees. They are also more loyal and dedicated, since they are able to better balance their work needs with their family life. Plus, companies that employ remote workers are not bound by geographic location in order to hire employees; they can handpick top tier talent from anywhere in the world.
In this tech-driven workplace, it simply makes better business sense to consider implementing a flexible work program. After all, many job seekers today (particularly the coveted millennial workers) are looking for remote work opportunities and are not willing to settle for a desk job. Although some jobs are more remote-friendly than others, there are always ways in which companies can offer flex, in the form of compressed workweeks, freelance assignments, job sharing, and so on.
And even if their jobs are office-bound, many workers are already working remotely—even if their bosses aren’t aware of it. They might be checking and answering emails on their smartphones, or working during their commute on their laptops or tablets. To officially recognize the flexible work already being produced by its workforce (and implement a flex work policy that encourages it by allowing staff to work remotely at least part of the time) would be in a company’s best interest.
Although it originally started as a work perk, flexible work options have quickly gained footing in today’s workplace. Companies looking to be current, competitive, save money, and have a workforce that is productive, loyal, and happily engaged would do well to create a flexible work program that is ultimately beneficial for them as well as their staff.
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