As a result of the pandemic, flexible work has gone "from being a 'nice to have' to an absolute necessity," according to a survey of 800 employees by FlexJobs. Forty eight percent of respondents with flexible work options rate their work-life balance as very good or excellent, compared to 36% of workers without flex work options who say the same.
Employees with flexible work arrangements are also more likely (54% vs. 45%) than those without to say they have the emotional support they need to manage stress, and also say they are much more likely (57% vs. 37%) to be able to change the stressful things about their work.
Remote work is also becoming workers' preferred method, as they are less interested in returning to full-time office work. Two-thirds (66%) of respondents in the survey said they would prefer to work remotely full-time after the pandemic is over, while 33% favored a blended approach. Less than 2% want to be in the office full-time.
Many studies have pointed to the popularity and value of remote work, both now and in the post-pandemic workplace. For example, 83% of employees in a recent Mercer survey said their companies are considering implementing flexible work at a greater scale — potentially making remote and flexible work options a larger part of everyday life going forward.
One reason for the rise of remote work is the way it enables worker autonomy, an important driver of employee satisfaction, according to recent research. Employers, HR and frontline managers are primarily concerned with productivity, which conventional wisdom said may be at risk when workers are remote. Some of that sentiment remains, but various studies have shown that employees feel they are equally or more productive while working remotely.
Employers are also increasing their awareness of work-life balance and its connection to mental health, aiming to improve retention and engagement within the workforce. Target, Postmates and Starbucks are examples of companies that have expanded mental health benefits during the pandemic.
A desire to improve the lives of working parents has also driven employers' increased acceptance of flexible and remote arrangements. Windowed work has been shown to help productivity during the pandemic, and data shows working parents are increasingly in need of this and other forms of flexibility to survive in a workplace that has only become more challenging.