As we head toward a flexible future, everyone is talking about workplace flexibility as a way of attracting new talent and retaining existing talent. But in all the chatter, we at Werk have also noticed some misconceptions about flex that we would like to clear up—to separate the legitimate hype from the fake news, so to speak.
Flexibility just means working from home
Definitely fake news. While working remotely is one of the most common ways to flex, it's certainly not the only way to flex. Turns out, there are actually six types of flexibility that incorporate both time and location-based modifications to the workday. Also keep in mind that just because someone is using Remote flexibility, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are working from their home—it just means they are at a location separate from their company office. A Remote employee could plug in from a satellite office, a co-working space, or even a local coffee shop. It’s important to ditch the antiquated lingo of the past because the phrase “working from home” can carry a negative stigma or an assumption that Remote employees work less hard than their in-office counterparts (also not true). In reality, most people with a remote work arrangement aren’t just lounging around in their PJs until midday—they’re working.
Not everyone needs workplace flexibility
Actually, our research found that 96 percent of the American workforce needs some type of workplace flexibility and that workers need access to an average of 2.5 flexibility types. Flex isn't just for mothers or caretakers or people with chronic conditions—it's for everyone.
Everyone needs the same type of flexibility
Au contraire. We don't believe in "one size fits all" solutions, because the needs for flexibility are as diverse as the workforce itself. Some employees need MicroAgility to attend recurring medical appointments, others need TimeShift to fulfill their morning duties at home or to circumvent a burdensome commute, and yet others need DeskPlus to focus on deep thinking and creative work. But what all these employees do have in common is that flexibility makes them more productive. Which leads us to...
Employees who can work flexibly are less productive
Research has actually shown that workers are more productive (and more engaged) when they work away from the office for a portion of their time, perhaps because they can avoid the myriad of distractions in a shared workplace. Employees can also use flex to work during the hours they feel most alert.
Showing up to the office shows commitment to the job
Face time in the office is no guarantee of productivity, and some workers—deemed "shirkaholics"—have made a living off pretending to be busy. We should be gauging performance based on actual results, not on hours spent at a desk. If the work gets done, what difference does it make where and when it happens?
PartTime workers are less ambitious
We've specifically defined PartTime as a way for people to work fewer hours per week while staying on an advancement track. It's time to rethink the notion that one has to put in 80, 60, or even 40 hours of work to get a promotion. Again, it should be about the results.
Recent flexibility clawbacks are proof flex doesn't work
Think again. While some big-name companies have clawed back their remote work programs in recent years, we believe that those notable failures are examples of the flexibility glass cliff and that these companies didn't implement flex the right way, i.e. with data powering flex conversations.
Flexibility is difficult to implement
With the kind of people analytics data Werk provides, companies can see the types of flex their employees need, and employees can get personalized profiles on their unique flex thumbprint. That way, everyone is on the same page about who is flexing in what ways, and companies can start reaping higher productivity, better employee health and morale, boosts to talent attraction and retention, and all the other benefits of flexibility.