- Employment specialists recently convened in a webinar to evaluate the status of flexible and remote work and how to advance the flexible-work movement nationally. The 1 Million for Work Flexibility (1MFWF) program was part of National Flex Day, which began five years ago to engage employers and workers in conversations about the value of work flexibility.
- Webinar participants concluded that: 1) millennials will take the flexible work movement forward; 2) some people already are working remotely, but unofficially; 3) companies can improve the way they track flexible work; 4) attitudes about flexible work change slowly but definitely; and 5) people's reasons for wanting work flexibility shouldn't matter.
- Brigid Schulte, one of the webinar's employment experts, said that flexible work should be the default work option rather than an accommodation and a right rather than a privilege. A study by WorldAtWork, sponsored by FlexJobs, showed that 80% of companies offer flexible work, but only 3% measure the effect and ROI.
Changing attitudes about flexible work for both employers and workers are driving the movement. In the experimental phase of telecommuting, managers thought workers would slack off and become less productive if they worked from home. But many telecommuters were putting in more productive hours at home than in the office — even leading to burnout in some cases.
Some big-name workplaces like IBM, General Electric and Apple have reined in remote workers in order to jumpstart innovation through in-person conversations, most claim, but the results of those actions likely won't be known for a while. However, these companies might find the competition for talent heat up as the option becomes more popular. Flexible work is now a movement that will likely gain steam, especially as more workers admit they would leave their current jobs for one that offered flexible arrangements.
Employers will need to accommodate workers with different needs and work styles to maintain productivity, and flexible work is a large part of that shift in thinking. Offering workplace flexibility also only works if it is seen as an equitable benefit — meaning everyone, even those without caretaking duties, can have access to it.