Jobs With Benefits: Informal Flexibility and Why It’s a Great Idea!
When I’ve interviewed candidates the number of times I have heard the question “Is there flexibility to work from home when I want to?” has at least doubled in the last year. While Marissa Mayer at Yahoo famously banned working from home at Yahoo in 2013, there is still a lot of evidence to indicate that people can actually be more productive working from home and that “informal flexibility” is a great long-term retention strategy.
I’m not suggesting here that everyone should telecommute – but having the informal flexibility to work from home a couple of days a week can be hugely attractive to knowledge workers and corporate employees.
According to a survey of 1500 people by FlexJobs, 82% of respondents said that they would be more loyal to their employers if they had flexible work options and 39% have turned down a promotion or have not taken or quit a job because of a lack of flexible work options.
Of the 1500 respondents to the Flexjobs survey, 54% report that their home, not the office, is their location of choice to undertake important job-related assignments.
Citrix did a study in the UK with the Centre for Economics and Business Research into the potential economic impacts of a more widespread ‘work from anywhere’ culture in the UK. The study found that 96% of the UK knowledge worker population that have the option of flexible working utilize this opportunity, while 83% would do so if flexible working was made available to them.
The top reasons people want to work from home include: work-life balance, family reasons and easier access to health and exercise.
And let’s face it; the cost of commuting to and from work is only increasing. In Toronto, Canada, the cost of a monthly TTC Transit pass just rose from $133.75 to $141.50 and for those who drive, parking downtown can easily cost $20 per day plus the cost of gas. It’s plain old expensive just to get to and from the office!
When I speak with managers in companies, the three top concerns about having employees work from home are:
- How will this impact our culture?
- What if we need to pull someone into a meeting?
- Will people still be productive if they are working from home?
Technology has made all of these concerns easy to address.
A culture where employees have the flexibility to work from both home and the office as their schedule and business needs demand is in itself a version company culture. (And, a desirable one for many employees.) All of those “water cooler conversations” can actually diminish company culture and lower productivity. If you need to pull someone into a meeting, that meeting could be a combination of both physical and virtual. You can use Skype, have a conference call, use screen sharing, chat or text.
According to the Huffington Post, employees who feel empowered to structure their work and personal lives according to their needs are more satisfied. In fact, when asked whether they’d rather have a flexible work environment or a salary increase, professionals overwhelming choose flexible work.
If you are negotiating with a top candidate and just need that one extra thing to seal the deal, why not try “informal flexibility” as the ace up your sleeve? If you roll this out in your organization, it could increase your employee loyalty and lower your turnover. Why not try it out as a corporate culture experiment to see how it works for your organization?
By Shanna Landolt – Editor, Recruitment Strategy – The HR Gazette.
Shanna Landolt has been featured as an expert on LinkedIn and Hiring on NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox and CityTV. She is the Editor, Recruitment Strategy for The HR Gazette. Her recruitment firm, The Landolt Group specializes in pharmaceutical and biotechnology search. Her consulting firm, Secrets from a Headhunter works with corporations to leverage the combined power of their employee’s networks to attract talent. Secrets From a Headhunter also works with individuals and executives to create a unique LinkedIn profile to optimize their personal brand.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of The HR Gazette or its team members.