April 30, 2018 – Despite the shift toward a more flexible workplace, 62 percent of employees prefer going to the office, according to Randstad’s latest Workmonitor survey, which tracks employee confidence and captures how likely an employee is to change jobs within the next six months.
The percentage is higher among young workers, challenging the widespread perception that Millennial and Gen Z workers tend to prefer digital interactions over personal ones. Sixty-five percent of those aged 18 to 24 said they prefer working in a traditional office environment, according to the report.
“The takeaway for employers: Workers appreciate having the option to work when and where they want, but also value interacting with colleagues face-to-face in the workplace,” said Jim Link, chief human resources officer (CHRO) of Randstad North America. “Employers who strike the right balance – making flexible work arrangements as accessible as possible through technology while also cultivating a thriving office culture – will succeed in attracting and retaining top talent.”
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The Flexible Workplace Disconnect
Although flexible and remote work arrangements are a top priority for employees, that’s not necessarily the case for employers, who often don’t offer any or provide enough tools to fully support them:
- Sixty-six percent of workers said they like the option of occasionally working from home or another location, but aren’t able to do so.
- Thirty-six percent of respondents reported that their workplaces support working from home anytime and anywhere they want.
- A third (35 percent) of employees disagreed that their employers provide the necessary technical equipment to enable them to work from home.
- Thirty percent of workers said they regularly have online or virtual team meetings via video conferencing.
Remote Work Arrangements Drive Engagement
Working from home or another location is an attractive option to employees:
- Sixty-six percent of workers said they prefer to occasionally work from home or another location.
- Eighty percent of workers said they like agile work (defined in the study as the ability to work from anywhere, anytime) because it increases their productivity, creativity and job satisfaction.
- More than half of all respondents (61 percent) said they don’t believe this type of work interferes with their personal lives, or their ability to disconnect from work.
Advantages of Flexible Work Options
The conventional workplace is still managing to change thanks to advancements in technology which make it possible to accommodate both full-time employees and the growing agile workforce (made up of temporary, contract, consultant and freelance professionals).
What Candidates Want. Shifting Priorities for Job Seekers
Five years ago, benefits topped their list, today it’s culture and tomorrow it’s flexibility. A slew of new reports have looked at the shifting priorities of job candidates. Their conclusion: companies face intense competition to find qualified candidates and that is resulting in major shifts in their people priorities.
A separate Randstad report said that although this changing landscape poses challenges for employers, “it also provides great benefits and opportunities for companies to thrive in the post-digital workplace.”
Randstad offered three reasons employers should consider providing more flexible work arrangements to their employees:
1. Access to a globally diverse workforce
Leaders are catching on to how remote work opportunities can entice talent, once previously beyond their reach, to join and contribute to their organization. According to Randstad Sourceright’s 2018 Talent Trends Report, 76 percent of respondents said that the right person for a role could be an employee, contract or contingent worker and could come from anywhere in the world. Nevertheless, this is extremely telling in terms of how global talent is being sourced and demonstrates how willing employees are to work remotely, regardless of location. Employers who utilize the right technologies to keep communication lines and collaboration opportunities open can draw upon a diverse set of talent from across the globe.
Related: What Motivates People to Switch Jobs
2. Increase employee engagement
Contrary to some beliefs, working remotely can actually boost engagement, rather than distract employees from their duties. In fact, 82 percent of U.S. workers surveyed said that the ability to work from anywhere at any time allows them to maintain a good work-life balance, and 80 percent said it increases their productivity, creativity and job satisfaction. A majority of employees have voiced desire for more flexibility in their work, which employers can fulfill by developing more remote-friendly workplaces. The fact that 66 percent of employee respondents want to work from home, or another location on occasion, speaks volumes, said Randstad. Employers who embrace this trend will be seen in a more positive light and rewarded with a happier, more productive workforce.
3. Less time to hire
The current talent shortage requires employers to get creative with their employee attraction and retention strategies. A tight labor market has a direct influence on an organization’s bottom line. And as a result, companies are feeling the weight (and cost) of unfilled positions. By tapping into a remote workforce, companies can broaden their talent pool and provide opportunities to employees with less traditional schedules. Employers who make working remotely a possibility for alternative hires can defray vacancy costs and fuel projects supported by a much deeper talent base. Whether choosing to work as a freelancer, easing into retirement with a less demanding schedule or reigniting their earning power to supplement dwindling nest eggs, even more tenured workers are being drawn to the flexibility that alternative work arrangements provide.
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“Employers who leverage technology to make flexible work more accessible will win when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent,” Randstad said. “It’s important to stay ahead of the curve to accommodate the latest workplace trends and experience these benefits firsthand. A more remote-friendly workplace is bound to be a win-win for all stakeholders involved.”
Recruiter Weighs In
“It is becoming increasingly difficult to find qualified talent and the employers that are the most flexible are the ones who are going to win the war on talent,” said Stacy Pursell, CEO of executive search firm the Pursell Group. “This means allowing flexible working arrangements and being more open to people working from home instead of being required to report to an office.” Ms. Pursell pointed to a past study that showed workers who work from home are more productive than those who report to the employer’s office.
“I’ve seen employers who require someone to work out of their office who are desperate to fill a position and are having a difficult time getting someone to relocate to work where their office is located,” she said. “There are perfectly qualified candidates who are interested in the open position but are simply not able to relocate to the city where the employer’s office is located. Then that employer will miss out on a capable individual and it all comes down to geography.”
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media