With the workforce beset by always-on connectivity and workweeks of 50, 60, or more hours per week, workers have been striving for work-life balance—or, at least, jobs that are more compatible with one's personal life. So it's no surprise that work-life balance topped FlexJobs' ranking of reasons why people seek flexible work options in its 2019 annual survey. But respondents also cited more than a dozen other reasons, all of which substantiate what a comprehensive HR solution flexibility can be.
The second most-popular reason is family, for example—with pet ownership not much farther down the list—and caregiving was a huge friction point with flexibility-less workers in Werk's research, too. Respondents from the U.S. workforce told us that the structure of their workday makes it difficult to be the parent they want to be (33 percent), to fulfill their morning and afternoon caregiving responsibilities (31 and 34 percent), to attend special events for their loved ones (29 percent), and to respond to caregiving emergencies as they arise (30 percent). Workers with flex, on the other hand, can use the flex types Remote and DeskPlus to work from home all or part of the time, TravelLite to limit the amount of business travel they take, MicroAgility and TimeShift to rearrange their working hours, and PartTime to work fewer hours while staying on advancement tracks.
The next three reasons—time savings, commute stress, and cost savings—share a common thread. Think of the gridlock weighing down the United States' roadways and mass transit systems, and then think of all the time and money workers spend traveling to and from a centralized work location every day. As we previously discussed, workers can save up to $555 in gas money and up to 343 hours—nearly two weeks—each year simply by working remotely full-time. And with the instant connectivity and the collaborative tools the internet enables, many jobs can be done whenever from wherever. Nixing the daily commute to a workplace would also provide environmental benefits, eliminate office distractions, and free workers from bad local job markets—three other reasons cited by the FlexJob survey respondents.
And even aside from the stress of caregiving and commuting amid inflexible jobs, the respondents also brought up other matters of personal wellbeing—namely, exercise, health, and disabilities. Inflexible work environments make it difficult if not impossible to make time for exercise and to attend medical appointments, as our research bears out—while workers with disabilities often must opt down or opt out of the workforce. Again, flexibility removes these roadblocks. Flexibility allows workers to step out of the office for a midday trip to the gym, for instance, or to get a physical or meet with a therapist. And workers with disabilities can use flexibility to work from home or to otherwise customize the workday to optimize their flexibility.
As we've said before, the reasons why workers demand flexibility (in overwhelming numbers) are as diverse as the workforce itself, which is why it's crucial to offer flexibility policies that respond to each employee's flexibility thumbprint. Find out how you can measure the flexibility gaps at your organization here.