New Data Proves Flexible Working Really Works: 7 Success Factors

The debate in the workplace has been wildly misdirected, with the media perpetuating a false contradiction about whether work should take place entirely remotely or only in the office. While some organizations expect these models, in reality, the best learning in recent years has been about the power of hybrid working and the benefits of working that can occur both at home and in the office.

Thinking about when, where and how work happens, the most positive future is a world of both and, rather than either, where people have more choice and control over their work schedules and approaches. And new data proves positive links between flexibility and all sorts of benefits.

Flexible working is the future (and the future is here)

The majority of people say they have important choices about where they work. According to a new study from Atlassian, 55% of knowledge workers can currently choose between working from home or in the office on any given day, and 51% can choose to live in an area other than where their office is located.

Additionally, data shows that 43% of knowledge workers work in a hybrid fashion, spending time in the office and time remotely. This hybrid working frequency is up from 27% in 2021. Additionally, since 2021, all-remote working has fallen from 34% of people to 22% and office-only working has gone from 35% of people. people at 39%.

Flexible Work Requests

It makes sense for companies to offer more flexibility, as it is in high demand. All generations expect flexibility in work options, according to research from LiveCareer. Specifically, 76% of Millennials, 69% of Gen Z and 64% of Gen X express this expectation. Additionally, when respondents were asked about the most important benefits, 38% of Millennials, 33% of Gen Xers, and 32% of Gen Zers identified the benefits of flexible working as the most important.

Interestingly, people’s priority for flexible working has been lowered compared to other issues, according to a new BCW study of 13,488 people in 15 countries. In particular, the main concerns of employees now are job security, job stability, workplace and culture. But the desire for hybrid and remote work is still on their priority list, especially among workers who already work with these degrees of flexibility.

The impact of flexibility

The data on how flexible working affects people and businesses is perhaps the most interesting. The results of the Atlassian study are significant:

  • Innovation: When they have flexibility in work options, 71% say their team is innovative, compared to 57% without flexibility.
  • Organizational culture: With flexibility, 83% have a positive view of the culture of their organization against 47% of those without flexibility.
  • impostor syndrome: With flexibility, 30% show symptoms of impostor syndrome, compared to 42% of those without flexibility.
  • Burnout: When people have flexibility, only 14% report symptoms of exhaustion, compared to 36% who have no flexibility.

Since 2021, the health of the teams has also improved. In 2021, 29% reported unhealthy teams, but in 2022, with more people reporting having flexible work options, only 5% of teams are unhealthy.

One of the most powerful aspects of flexible working is how it meets basic needs for control and to be treated like an adult. When people had high-stress jobs, it was the level of control they had that made all the difference in their health and even mortality, according to studies from Indiana University. And when people had more control over after-hours work intrusions, stress levels and health were positively impacted, according to research from the University of Illinois.

The important message to take home: flexible working really works for people and for organizations.

Success factors with flexible working

Flexible working is worthwhile, so when looking to improve working flexibility within your organization, consider the following factors.

#1 – Equity

Different jobs require varying amounts of face-to-face interaction, which creates the conditions for inequality. Be sure to define general principles on how you will manage flexibility options. Also, provide plenty of transparency and clarity about why some jobs require more face-to-face presence than others, for example, involving the need for hands-on lab experimentation, customer interaction, or of co-creation with teams.

Also, ensure that you promote attendance equity by inviting remote attendees to join meetings and ensuring opportunities for mentorship, development, and career advancement are available to everyone, regardless of location. work.

#2 – Creativity

Stretch your thinking and be as creative as possible by giving people more flexibility most of the time. Maybe a receptionist has to be there to greet guests most of the day, but they can split the responsibilities within the team, allowing for a few hours a day when other members are in contact with customers and that they can work from home without contact with customers. Tasks. Also consider flexibility not just in where people work, but also in terms of when and what projects they choose to work on.

#3 – Intent

Another key to successful flexible working is intentionality. Predict when people need to be in the office for teams to solve problems to generate new face-to-face solutions, rather than assuming they need to be in the office every day. Empower people to determine how and where they work best and what tasks they can best accomplish remotely versus in the office. Encourage teams to adopt new standards for sharing schedule information so people can commute when others are also in the office.

#4 – Steering

Train and educate leaders on how to lead remotely and how to engage and inspire people in this new work landscape. Build leaders’ skills to communicate with clarity, be accessible remotely, set expectations, and manage results. While these may seem like proven leadership abilities, many leaders want and need development in these areas.

#5 – Balance and Limits

Sometimes working remotely can result in people having a hard time setting boundaries. When work comes home, it can be hard to turn it off. Or if people aren’t required to be in the office, they can push themselves to work all the time, even if they feel sick. Make sure people are empowered to shut down and take off appropriately.

#6 – Railings

Many companies have been cautious about setting guidelines for how much and when people should be back in the office. But clarity on these things can actually relieve the pressure on people to redo their schedules week after week. It can be helpful for leaders to agree that their teams will be in the office on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, for example, so people know what to count on. Businesses must of course continue to offer flexibility, but guardrails can empower people by clarifying what is expected and where choice is possible.

#7 – Great Places

Work has changed, so workplaces should too. Test and pilot new spaces and give people a voice in how they respond to new needs. Provide a wide variety to perform all kinds of work, from focusing and collaborating to learning, socializing and rejuvenating. Make sure people have cultural permission to work in the entire space, not just at their workstation. And create neighborhoods where employees can find their employees and have a place of their own.

To have an impact

With all the difficulties of the pandemic, one of the bright spots is what people and businesses have learned about work and how it’s done. Globally, demands for flexible working have increased and the positive impacts of flexible working are encouraging. The future of work is certainly flexible, and it’s here.

About Wanda Reilly

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