Only 7 percent of workers say they’re most productive working in an office

flexible workingFewer interruptions from colleagues, fewer distractions make home the preferred place for maximum productivity, claims a new study from recruitment consultancy FlexJobs. The survey of more than 3,000 respondents interested in work flexibility claims that only 7 percent of workers say the office and traditional work hours form the best time and place for optimum productivity. More than half (51 percent) of people reported that their home is their preferred place to work. Eight percent said they would choose a coffee shop, coworking space, library, or other place besides the office and another eight percent would choose the office but only outside regular hours. 26 percent go to the office during regular hours to complete important work only because it’s not an option to go elsewhere. According to the survey, around two-thirds (65 percent) of workers think they would be more productive working from home than working in a traditional workplace.

The top reasons people are, or would be, more productive working at home versus the office include fewer interruptions from colleagues (76 percent), fewer distractions (75 percent), and less frequent meetings (69 percent). It’s estimated that up to six hours a day are lost on work interruptions, wasting 28 billion hours a year.

Other reasons people prefer their home office include a reduction in office politics (68 percent), reduced stress from commuting (67 percent), and a more comfortable office environment (51 percent).

“When the overwhelming majority of workers say that traditional office spaces are not conducive to inspiring their highest levels of productivity, something is clearly broken–certainly with the actual workplace environment, but more importantly with the corporate culture that isn’t addressing this problem,” said Sara Sutton Fell, Founder and CEO of FlexJobs. “Employers who continue to blindly reinforce antiquated ways of working are going to find themselves with lower performing, less engaged, and less happy employees, whereas those who explore more flexible workplace arrangements such as telecommuting and flexible schedule options are taking advantage of a great competitive opportunity for their company.”

Additional key findings of the FlexJobs survey include:

Work flexibility benefits everybody

Work flexibility appeals to diverse audiences and demographics for a wide variety of reasons.

  • Respondents represent various demographics: working parents (39 percent), freelancers (26 percent), introverts (21 percent), entrepreneurs (20 percent), and caretakers (16 percent)
  • Other notable audiences include traveller/digital nomad (11 percent), disabled or managing a chronic illness (11 percent), student (9 percent), environmentalist (4.4 percent), and military spouse (2 percent)
  • Respondents also span generations: Gen Z (1 percent), Millennial/Gen Y (22 percent), Gen X (45 percent), Baby Boomer (27 percent) and the Silent Generation (5 percent)
  • Work flexibility appeals to highly educated and experienced workers. 80 percent of respondents have a college or graduate degree and 32 percent are senior manager level or higher.
  • 58 percent of people work because they want to travel, up from 30 percent from 2014. Almost as many people seeking work want to travel as save for retirement (65 percent)
  • Other important factors for working include wanting to pay for basic necessities (80 percent), pay off debt (59 percent), have a professional impact in the world (41 percent), contribute to charity (28 percent), and pay for continuing education for themselves (25 percent).

 

Interest in work flexibility is high

Respondents place an extremely high value on work flexibility:

  • Work flexibility (80 percent) was ranked the most important job factor when evaluating a job prospect.
  • Work-life balance and salary tied as the second most important factor (74 percent), ranked well above other factors such as health insurance (43 percent), company reputation (41 percent), and 401(k)/retirement benefits (31 percent)
  • 33 percent have actually left a job because it did not have work flexibility
  • 14 percent have considered leaving a job because it did not have work flexibility
  • 18 percent are currently looking for a new job because of work flexibility issues

 

Employer benefits

Employees report being willing to make bottom-line saving sacrifices in exchange for telecommuting options:

  • 29 percent of respondents said they would take a 10 percent or 20 percent cut in pay
  • 22 percent are willing to forfeit vacation time
  • 15 percent said they would give up employer-matching retirement contributions
  • 81 percent of respondents also say they would be more loyal to their employers if they had flexible work options

 

Improved health

People surveyed believe flexible options would positively impact their health:

  • 97 percent say a job with flexibility would have a positive impact on their overall quality of life
  • 79 percent think it would make them more healthy
  • 87 percent think it would lower their stress

 

Reasons for wanting flexible work

Since 2013, work-life balance (79 percent), family (52 percent), time savings (48 percent) & commute stress (47 percent) have been the top four reported reasons people seek flexible work.

  • Time savings has outranked cost savings as a factor in seeking flexible work for the past four years
  • 72 percent of today’s flexible job seekers have had round-trip commutes over double the national average, which is approximately 50 minutes
  • Of those who telecommuted in 2015, 22 percent telecommuted more this year than last year
  • Only 3 percent of respondents worry a lot that a flexible work arrangement will hurt their career progression

 

Types of flexible work

The most in-demand type of flexible work arrangement continues to be 100 percent telecommuting (86 percent), but flexible schedule (73 percent), partial telecommuting (49 percent), part-time (48 percent), alternative schedule (48 percent), and freelance (44 percent) are also in demand.

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