A new study suggests that businesses that do not have a flexible workspace* policy risk losing out on top talent. Research conducted by leading flexible workspace provider, IWG, shows that 80 percent of workers in the U.S. would choose a job which offered flexible working over a job that didn’t, and almost a third (30 percent) of people value being able to choose their work location over an increase in vacation time. In light of these findings, it’s unsurprising that 74 percent of respondents believe that flexible working has become the new normal. As a result, in the past ten years, 83 percent of businesses have introduced a flexible workspace policy, or are planning to adopt one.
“Last year our Global Workspace Survey talked about reaching a tipping point, but what we are seeing now is that flexible working is considered by many to be the new norm for any business that is serious about productivity, agility and winning the war for top talent,” said Mark Dixon, CEO of IWG. “Indeed, over half of all our respondents claim to work outside their main office location for at least half of the week.”
While many businesses have or are planning to implement a more flexible workplace policy, existing company cultures may inhibit full adoption of these changes. Fifty-six percent of those surveyed say that changing the organizational culture is the main barrier to implementing a flexible workspace policy, particularly within businesses that have a long-standing, non-flexible working approach. Over a third (43 percent) say that fear of how flexible working may impact the overall company culture is the biggest obstacle.
“Companies around the country are facing multiple challenges, including ensuring that their business is agile enough to adapt to change,” continues Dixon. “Our research shows that businesses that haven’t already considered the financial and strategic benefits of flexible workspace need to do so now. Otherwise, they face being seen as out of touch, both with their competitors and with the demands of the modern workforce, which means losing out on the best talent.”
Attracting and Retaining Talent
Findings show that 78 percent of businesses think that offering flexible working enables them to expand their talent pool. In fact, many (81 percent) businesses are adapting to improve talent retention by introducing flexible working. From an employee’s point of view, more than a third of people would say that flexible working is so important, they would prioritize it over having a more prestigious role (35 percent).
Perhaps this is due to an increasing focus on work/life balance: flexible working is seen to improve this balance by 82 percent. The findings also show that flexible workspace is seen to encourage a more inclusive working environment, with benefits for returning parents, older workers, people suffering from stress or struggling with mental health issues.
Flexibility not only makes workers happier and healthier but makes workforces more productive. Eighty-five percent of businesses confirm that productivity has increased in their business because of greater flexibility. What’s more, 63 percent of those surveyed report at least a 21 percent improvement in productivity because of flexible working.
Increasing Agility and Cost Savings
In these uncertain times, it’s clear that businesses are prioritizing agility and cost efficiencies. Fifty-nine percent of businesses surveyed said they are looking to be more agile in 2019. A third of businesses are looking to expand internationally this year, and the majority of respondents (62 percent) say that they have chosen flexible working because it accelerates speed to market in new countries. Seventy percent also choose flexible working to help them to scale. Flexible workspace has also been chosen by 65 percent to reduce capital and operational expenditure. The same number of respondents have adopted flexible workspace to help manage risks, and to consolidate their portfolio.
The New Normal
For many employers and employees, flexible working is now the norm. More than half (52 percent) of those surveyed state that they now work outside their company’s main location for at least half the working week or more, and for 71 percent of people, a choice of work environment is a key factor when evaluating new career opportunities.
The findings also reveal that more than two-fifths of U.S. workers see commuting as the worst part of their day (45 percent) and more than half of respondents (53 percent) believe that it could be obsolete in a decade (2030). Pressure has been mounting as commuters are increasingly disgruntled by their journey to work, and close to one in five (17 percent) respondents would say that they are ‘regularly late’ for work due to travel disruptions. Almost half (49 percent) of workers spend their commute working, and as a result, over a third (36 percent) feel that official working hours should include time spent on their journey, as this does not constitute ‘free time’ in their day.