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Workplace flexibility is no longer a perk, it’s a requirement

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It used to be considered a nice treat, but workplace flexibility is now an employee expectation and companies that don’t offer it had better watch out.

Over the last four years, there’s been a 24 per cent increase in the number of workers who describe flexible work as an important factor when looking for a new job.

And over the last two years, there has been a 78 per cent increase in LinkedIn job posts mentioning flexibility.

It’s no longer a “fuzzy feel-good perk”, LinkedIn argued in its Global Recruiting Trends report for 2019.

“[Companies] might not get special attention for offering flexibility, but you will probably stand out for not having it (and not in a good way),” the researchers warned.

Companies also benefit from flexibility through increased productivity and worker satisfaction.

The statistics

A Stanford University study in China found that productivity increased by 13 per cent and employee turnover fell by 50 per cent once work from home policies were introduced.

Recruiters agree: 77 per cent said a benefit of flexibility is work-life balance, 54 per cent said another benefit is that it boosts retention.

More than half (51 per cent) said a major boon is how it attracts candidates and 42 per cent said it’s also valuable as it improves productivity.

It can also support diverse workplaces. While women are 22 per cent more likely to consider flexibility an important workplace factor, it’s not just working mothers who benefit.

“It’s people with disabilities, military spouses, people with health problems, caretakers, and people living in rural or economically disadvantaged areas. People need and want work flexibility for a lot of different reasons,” the founder of 1 Million for Work Flexibility founder, Sara Sutton said.

Naturally, not all workplaces can offer flexible arrangements. It’s difficult for surgeons, electricians and chefs to work remotely.

But the lesson for workplaces that can provide flexibility is to do so, or prepare for obsolescence, explained Cisco’s global chief of staff, Jason Phillips.

“Work flexibility is becoming the norm. The challenge is how fast can organizations provide it. Those that can are going to be in a far better position to retain top talent over the next three to five years.”

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