When most people think about workplace flexibility, they tend to envision employees working exclusively in their PJs from the luxury of their own couches. While Remote is certainly one of the most obvious ways to flex, it's not the only type of flexibility, nor is it the flexibility type that employees need most: that designation belongs to what we call DeskPlus, aka location variety.
Before we go further, let's clarify the difference between DeskPlus and Remote. Whereas Remote entails location independence—the ability to work from anywhere 100% of the time—DeskPlus entails location variety. Employees with DeskPlus still report to a company office, but they can also work away from that office, at a location of their choosing, for a portion of the work week. This could be from home, a nearby co-working space, a library, a coffee shop, etc.—any location that helps them maximize their productivity.
In our research study, we found that 84% of employees need DeskPlus, making it the most in-demand of the six flexibility types. That percentage is constant for men and women, millennials and Generation X. Unfortunately, DeskPlus is one of the most underserved flex types, with only 21% of employees having access to it.
And the benefits of DeskPlus can be monumental. DeskPlus can allow employees to find focus and/or "maker" time away from the distractions of a shared workplace. It can save them from an arduous commute (thereby reducing congestion and, incidentally, helping the environment.) It can even make life and work more compatible for parents and other caregivers and for employees living with disabilities or chronic conditions.
Plus, DeskPlus can also keep an organization's workforce healthy by allowing sick workers to work away from the office, thereby keeping contagions away from coworkers and even mass transit commuters. This practice is called "social distancing," and it really saves the day during flu season every year. And as we saw firsthand in recent weeks, DeskPlus can also be a literal lifesaver during times of extreme cold.
Better yet, research has shown that DeskPlus workers can be the most engaged workers: Gallup's 2017 State of the American Workplace report revealed that the "optimal engagement boost" happens when workers "spend 60% to less than 80% of their workweek—or three to four days—working off-site."
Companies that give their employees access to DeskPlus don't just witness a boost in engagement, productivity, retention, and well-being, though—they also see a boost to their bottom line if they use DeskPlus to optimize their real estate. As we previously reported, companies that address just half of the DeskPlus gap can optimize a third of their real estate, replacing fixed workspaces with hoteling, desk shares, and other flexible solutions.
With all these benefits in mind, it's no wonder DeskPlus is so popular—both in the workforce at large and among Werk employees. One of our co-CEOs uses DeskPlus to optimize her concentration and productivity, for example. Our product designer uses it to "crank through some heads-down tasks” while our CTO loves getting work done with “zero distractions."
Of course, not all organizations are born equal, so it's crucial to collect data on the flexibility needs at your organization before implementing any flexibility policy. That way, you know the flexibility you offer will have the most impact and the best chance for revolutionary success.