Workplace flexibility isn't an ideal or a novelty anymore. As the global workforce evolves and leaves workday conventions behind, workplace flexibility is rapidly becoming the standard. In fact, more than half of workers around the world are already using DeskPlus—the flexibility type defined as location variety—and Remote—the type defined as location independence. And with that percentage certain to grow, it's time for employers to make sure their flex is structured and their employees are supported.
This encouraging statistic comes from the 2019 IWG Global Workspace Survey, which canvassed more than 15,000 business people in 80 nations and found that "over half of employees globally are working outside of their main office headquarters for at least 2.5 days a week."
IWG Founder and CEO Mark Dixon marvels at this particular survey result. "In last year's report, we talked about reaching a tipping point in the uptake of flexible working and the workspace solutions that facilitate it," he writes. "In 2019 … it is safe to say that we are way beyond that. Flexible working is the new norm."
The benefits of Remote and DeskPlus work can be huge. Such location-based modifications to the workday boost both talent attraction and diversity and inclusion efforts, as employers are able to pull talent from anywhere, making commute and mobility restrictions moot. These modifications also save companies millions of dollars on yearly real estate costs, since fewer employers need in-office workspaces on a day-to-day basis. Plus, research has shown that employees working remotely can be more productive than their in-office peers.
As with any of the other flexibility types, however, Remote and DeskPlus aren't effective if they are implemented improperly. For starters, companies must first identify how much of their workforce actually needs—not just wants—access to location-based flexibility before rolling out any new policy. This data is crucial. You may go into that process thinking most employees need full location independence only to discover that the majority of your workforce would be more productive and more satisfied with location variety—the ability to work away from the office for a set period of time each week. That’s why one-size-fits-all policies like WFH Fridays are often ineffective.
Secondly, any new flexible policies must be incorporated into your company culture—so that all employees know how to access the flex they need, no one feels the need to justify the flex they use, no one feels stigmatized for working outside of the office, and no one feels deprived of the right to disconnect when their work is done. These policies also have to on display in the employer brand, i.e. flexibility has to be a major talking point in job descriptions and job interviews, especially because flex is one of the top factors in current-day job seekers' decision process.
Werk guides employers through the journey to flexibility—starting with a people analytics platform that identifies the flexibility that employees need on individual, demographic, and organization-wide levels. For more information, check out our most recent case study.