October 6, 2014
A friend of mine went for a job recently and asked about flexible working. They were informed that: “we don’t like to allow people to work from home as we can’t keep our eye on them.” This attitude is a disincentive to job applicants and existing staff, and makes employers who take this attitude look at best old-fashioned and at worse foolish. Even the UK’s pro-employer government extended the right to request flexible working to anyone with over 26 weeks service this June, which illustrated how ‘mainstream’ flexi-work has become. A new piece of research reveals there is currently something of a global shift in culture towards a ‘Flex Work Imperative’, described as a perfect storm of employee demand, improving job market, and legislation that is shifting flex work from job perk to an employee’s right. It’s why 43 per cent of employees surveyed said they would prefer flex work over a pay raise.
New Way to Work (NW2W) Index, published by communication software firm Unify, pointed to the rise of legal actions or “Right to Request” laws around the world that are giving employees the right to request flex work. But it’s not only a matter of a stick, as the survey shows, when implemented properly, a flexible working policy can actually help an organisation to save money.
“Employees are serious about flex work,” said Bill Hurley, Chief Marketing Officer at Unify.
“In addition to nearly half of all employees preferring flex work over a pay raise, nearly one third said they would change employers if offered flexible work elsewhere. It is time to get on board—business leaders who ignore the Flex Work Imperative could find themselves suffering the loss of their best employees.”
For Volume 4 of the NW2W Index, Unify surveyed more than 800 global participants at all levels across finance, IT, marketing, R&D, sales, customer service, operations, and other functional areas. The Index showed that, implemented properly, flex work can save money, especially when a pay raise across the board could be difficult to meet.
In the full report, available on the NW2W hub, Unify provides best practices for how businesses can successfully implement flex work, emphasizing it is not an “all-or-nothing” situation. Rather, many employees would be satisfied with a few days per week working from home; or the ability to work in the office for part of the day, and then finish at home.
Some of the best practices include management setting the example by working remotely a few hours per week, leveraging technology to have as successful an interaction as if they were in the office.
Businesses can also establish and document a virtual team code of conduct that outlines the things employees must do in order to make flex work successful.
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