Adapting to a Flexible Work Environment

Jan. 20, 2017
The ever-growing millennial workforce cares about soft benefits like working remotely a lot more than you might think.

I was on the phone the other day with a terrific candidate working on the details of an offer so he could wrap things up before the holiday break. When we started talking he indicated there were a number of things he wanted to address in the offer that was on the table. As I started to dig into the list it was obvious to me that we were really down to one or two gating items for him to accept. One mattered more than the other (money believe it or not) so we focused our discussion around the single most important facet of the offer—he wanted flexibility in working from home at least one day per week.

He and his wife were expecting their first child and he was determined to make sure that his new employer was supportive of allowing him an opportunity to work remotely for one day a week. To me this was not a huge ask—but believe it or not some employers are still not 100 percent on board with allowing flexibility of allowing employees to work remotely, even for one day a week. It’s a very disconcerting position to take in this market and for a lot of good reasons. Flex work schedules are a “soft employee benefit” that doesn’t cost the employer a dime.

In fact, I would argue that many remote employees are more productive when they are heads down without all of the day-to-day distractions that are part of everyday life inside the walls of most brick and mortar corporate environments.  Today, there are 74.3 million 18- to 34-year-olds, accounting for nearly 23.5 percent of the population, according to the most recent data from the U.S Census Bureau. They comprise the current largest demographic. This ever-growing millennial workforce cares about soft benefits like working remotely a lot more than you might think. 

Here are some of the benefits of adopting some version of flexible work hours:

Empowered workforce—People want to feel empowered and run their own lives based on what’s going on when they are not at work. Being able to come in later and work later or partially do some of their work from home makes the worker and worker’s family much happier, which has many benefits for the worker and the employer. It is also a huge benefit that costs the employer nothing.

Trust—Allowing workers to pick and choose their schedule demonstrates an element of trust between the employer and their workforce. When employers trust their workers to choose the best schedule for them, it changes the relationship to one of trust, and that goes a long way in any working relationship. This added trust you bestow on the remote worker has the potential to generate greater productivity, which is a win-win for everyone. 

Retention—Flex schedules also have another benefit—keeping and retaining great people. As the workforce shrinks with the retiring baby boomers and restrictions on immigration, keeping great people is paramount to any organization and flex work time is one of those benefits that costs nothing to the employer but the benefits are tremendous.    

Great work/life balance—Leaders that espouse a culture of work/life balance have to adopt the remote workforce—plain and simple. In this new era of being in a candidate-driven market, employers have to step up and walk the walk when it comes to allowing flex work schedules and working remotely.

If employers can’t or don’t adapt they could find themselves struggling to engage great people to join their team. Instead, they will likely be competing for excellent talent that has zero interest in listening to their story.

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