Many companies treat workplace flexibility as a perk, but it’s time to start thinking of it as a right. In our new study, “The Future Is Flexible: The Importance of Flexibility in the Modern Workforce,” we found flexibility is the one thing 96 percent of employees desire but only a fraction can access. In fact, only 47 percent of respondents—and 34 percent of women—said they had access to the flexibility they need.
Annie Dean and Anna Auerbach, Werk’s co-founders and co-CEOs, discuss the problem in a new article in Harvard Business Review. “While companies have spent billions of dollars enhancing their physical workspaces and technology to meet employee demands, little attention has been paid to innovating on the workday,” they observe.
And these employees who crave flexibility have valid reasons to want freedom from rigid, deskbound, 9-to-5 workplace cultures—reasons that will dovetail with company performance. They want to be better caregivers: 33 percent of respondents said their current workday structure makes it challenging to be the parents they want to be. They want better health and wellness: 39 percent of millennials reported their workday structure makes it challenging to exercise and to live a healthy lifestyle. And, perhaps most appealingly for employers, they want to be more productive: 34 percent of millennials said the workday structure makes it challenging to stay sustainably efficient.
Plus, as Annie Dean and Anna Auerbach point out, our research shows flexibility tends to make employees more engaged, more loyal, and more likely to advocate for their employers. “Companies that adopt structured flexibility programs today,” they say, “will blaze the trail for the companies of tomorrow.”
Read more about our new study in Harvard Business Review.