Flexible working now routine for two thirds of US workers

flexible working owl labsA new report from Owl Labs claims that although two-thirds of US workers now work away from their main place of work some of the time, there are still many people and organisations that are unaware of the benefits, processes and challenges involved in flexible working. The new report explores the effect flexible working has on personal happiness, recruitment, retention and skills as well as exploring the attitudes of people who are based in a fixed place of work.

Although nearly two-thirds of US workers polled said they work remotely at least some of the time, the share of remote workers by income disproportionately favours the higher income categories, as is the case in the UK. Senior leadership represents the highest percentage of full-time remote workers among those polled.

Relative to their share of the total workforce, the following industries have the highest percentages of people who work remotely: Healthcare (15 percent), Technology/Internet (10 percent), and Financial Services (9 percent).

Relative to their share of the total workforce, the following departments have the highest percentages of people who work remotely: Facilities/Operations/IT (18 percent), Customer Service/Support/Success (15 percent), and Sales (14 percent).


How people feel about flexible working 

Workers who work remotely, at least some of the time are happier, feel more trusted, less stressed, are more inclined to recommend their employer to a friend, and are less likely to leave than their office-bound colleagues. Remote workers are 29 percent happier in their jobs than on-site workers.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The impact on worries about career progression for remote workers are greatly exaggerated[/perfectpullquote]

In fact, more than a third of workers would take a pay cut of up to 5 percent in exchange for the option to work remotely at least some of the time; a quarter would take a 10 percent pay cut; 20 percent would take an even greater cut.

More than 40 percent of remote workers plan to work remotely more frequently in the future, and more than 50 percent of on-site workers want to work remotely in the future. Only 19 percent of on-site workers say they do not want to work remotely at any frequency.

The impact on worries about career progression for remote workers are greatly exaggerated, according to the report. More than two-thirds of remote workers are not concerned that working remotely will limit their movement up the corporate ladder.

In terms of their goals for flexible working, ninety-one percent of respondents said they wanted to work remotely to improve their work-life balance. Nearly 80 percent named greater productivity /focus, avoiding the commute, and reduced stress among the reasons they enjoyed working remotely.

While compensation and vacation were cited as the most important employee benefits, workplace flexibility was of higher importance than wellness programming, education and training reimbursement, and parental leave.

In spite of the fact they remote workers work more hours, they actually say they are overworked less than on-site workers. Four out of 10 remote workers say they work more than 40 hours a week because they enjoy what they do (compared to just 17 percent of on-site workers).


Some challenges

Sixty percent of those polled find themselves being interrupted or talked over during hybrid meetings, whether they’re in the office or working remotely. However, more remote workers find IT issues a challenge during meetings than on-site workers. They also find it more difficult to stay focused during meetings. Remote workers also report that meetings reduce their productivity more than on-site workers.

In spite of all the evidence to the contrary, managers greatest worries about remote workers are reduced employee productivity (82 percent), reduced employee focus (82 percent), lower employee engagement and satisfaction (81 percent), and whether their remote employees are getting their work done (80 percent).

Managers are least concerned with employee loneliness (59 percent), the career implications of employees working remotely (65 percent), employees overworking (67 percent), and difficulty managing them (68 percent). The report concludes that manager training substantially reduces manager’s concerns about flexible working.