Not that long ago, we engaged with each other at work in the same physical space, at the same time, on the same days. We took care of everything else in our lives...uninterrupted...when we walked out the door of our workplace.
- Investments in technology and agile workspaces caused the clocks and walls that used to tell us when and where to do our jobs and take care of everything else to disappear, literally and figuratively.
- Talent is no longer limited by geography or full-time status, as organizations look for the best people regardless of where they live and increasingly tap into the growing on demand, contingent workforce.
- People, especially Gen-Y/Millennials, expect and want a certain level of control and flexibility over how, when and where they fit their work and personal lives together.
According to the our 2015 biennial study of a national probability sample of U.S. full-time workers, these trends have transformed how, when and where we work:
- 96% of all employees said their have some degree of work life flexibility, or "flexibility in when, where and how you work. It allows you to flexibly allocate time and energy between your work life and personal life."
- One-third (33%) of full-time U.S. workers said they do most of their work from a remote location not on their employer's site.
- Six-in-ten (61%) full-time workers with work life flexibility currently use informal, occasional shifts in where and when they work, an increase from 55% in 2013, while the percentage with formal flexible work arrangements stayed relatively steady at 44%.
The problem is that most organizations have failed to unlock the potential of this workplace transformation as evidenced by ambiguous support, lack of training and under-utilization of technology:
- Only 56% said that their employer still has a strong commitment to work life flexibility,
- More than half (52%) received no training or guidance on how to manage their work life flexibility, and
- 8 out of 10 have never used the project management software and two-thirds have never used the video/web conferencing that supports flexible work.
Employers need to create a cohesive, high performance flexible work culture that:
Attracts and retains top talent, throughout their career, and regardless of geographic location or full-time status because...
- All employees, including Gen-Y/Millennials, have the work flexibility and "balance" they value and that makes sense for their particular job.
- Flexible, on demand, contingent workers are more seamlessly integrated into the full-time workforce.
- Valuable institutional knowledge of pre-retirees who may want to work less, or more flexibly before retiring fully, is retained.
- Parents and elder caregivers reset the way work and life fit together and continue to contribute while managing their personal responsibilities.
Engages the talent that you have and helps them work as productively and efficiently as possible because...
- Managers set clear goals and objectives and employees communicate their progress more regularly since "presence" can no longer be a proxy for performance.
- People use technology more effectively to communicate and access data from anywhere at anytime.
- Teams coordinate their individual work life flexibility goals to ensure work gets done efficiently.
- People think through where and when they will be most productive as agile workspaces become more dense, open and potentially distracting.
- Business continues uninterrupted following a snowstorm, power outage or other unforeseen disruption.
Improves the way work and life fit together to be your best, on and off the job because...
- All employees, including Gen-Y/Millennials, have the skills and tools to think through how to use flexibility to take control of their work+life fit and do it in a way that meets their needs and the needs of the business.
- Expectations regarding access and responsiveness via technology are consistently clarified.
- Healthy behaviors, such exercise, sleep, eating well and doctor's appointments, are easier to incorporate into your work and everything else you need to get done.
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Related Articles from FSG/WLF:
- The 10 Keys to Building the Flexible Workplace of the Future
- 3 Signs Flexible Work is Strategic--Not Just Window Dressing
- The Strategic Use of Flexibility