The future of work is here, thanks to COVID, and a big part of that future is flexible work schedules. PwC’s U.S. Remote Work Survey reports that before COVID, 29% of U.S. financial services companies had at least 60% of their workforce working remotely one day a week, but with COVID, that number more than doubled. Flexible work schedules are important to and enjoyed by employees with nearly half of employees surveyed saying they want to continue working remote after COVID. Employees say their remote work arrangements have given them a positive view of their employers, increasing their trust and satisfaction with their organizations.
Benefits to Employers
Flexible schedules benefit employers in many ways. Jessica Howington, writing for Flexjobs.com, explains that offering flexible schedules helps employers stay competitive, keep employees happy, and be a company that people want to work for, enhancing reputation in the job market.
1. Attracting Talent
A 2018 International Workplace Group study shows the result of flexible schedules on the applicant pool and the job market. More than half of U.S. workers said they’d pass on jobs that don’t have flexible scheduling, and that having a choice of where to work means more than the type of company. This was before the worldwide pandemic sent many to work from home for the first time. Now, flexible scheduling helps employers attract and retain top talent. For small businesses, that means offering flexible schedules is an important and cost-effective way to attract and keep top talent.
2. Improving Productivity
Studies show that flexible schedules improve workforce productivity. Airtasker’s survey found that remote employees log less unproductive time, work almost 17 more days a year, and avoid work much less than when working in the office. Remote workers have much more leeway to improve their workday productivity than in the office, with things like listening to music, planning the workday, and exercising and getting fresh air. The International Workplace Group reports that 85 percent of businesses claim flexible schedules increase their business and 63 percent say flexible schedules create at least 21 percent productivity improvements.
3. Building Sustainability
Not only does flexible scheduling reduce or eliminate the office commute for employees, it also saves employers money on overhead expenses, resulting in a lower carbon footprint. Businesses spend less money on water and electricity when they have remote employees and need less office space. That’s good news for small businesses whose expenses can mean the difference just doing business or business profitability and success, especially regarding labor and overhead. Rachel Jay of Flexjobs reports that remote work supports the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in many areas, including ending poverty, ensuring health and well-being for all, promoting sustainable economic growth and full and productive employment, and ensuring sustainable consumption.
Benefits to Employees
Flexible scheduling provides many benefits to employees, and not only the elimination of the daily commute, although that alone is a huge benefit. The impact on employee expenses and free time includes an annual average saving of thousands of dollars on fuel alone. Factor in business attire and time to commute to and from the workplace, and the economic impact of working remotely really adds up.
Flexible work provides jobs for many who may not have access to full employment, such as those in rural and impoverished areas. Flexible work provides better wages and fewer expenses for workers, building stability into the workforce. Job seekers have more options with remote opportunities, reducing unemployment and job search time. Flexible work schedules enable employees to better handle work and life responsibilities and benefit women in the workplace by eliminating some of their obstacles to work success such as excess time away from home and long commutes.
While employers large and small have had to pivot to remote workforces due to COVID, flexible schedules are not going away any time soon, if ever. The benefit to small business employers especially can mean a huge difference in competitiveness and the bottom line.