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Fact vs. Fiction: What Does Flexible Work Look Like Today? 

Flexible workplace supports employees and inclusion
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Marcy Klipfel profile photo
By Marcy Klipfel
 on April 12, 2023
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Remote and hybrid work are in high demand, offering the flexibility and inclusion employees are looking for.  

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many CEOs and leaders across the nation realized how important empathy was to employee retention and performance, and most importantly, their wellbeing.  

Though many C-level leaders believe their organizations made significant strides towards improving their work cultures since 2020, perceptions among their HR teams and employees still aren’t stacking up. With many CEOs pushing for a return to office, that sentiment doesn’t scale across the entire organization. Data shows us that half of employees care more about flexibility than salary.  

Today’s workers are ultimately choosing to prioritize their mental health over career and financial success.  

Trusting people with additional autonomy with their workload, flexibility is attractive to candidates and tenured employees alike. Therapy sessions, anniversary celebrations, vet appointments, and dance recitals: Workers simply want to make the most of each day both in life and in work. 

Organizations that prioritize flexibility, offering hybrid or remote options as an example, are considered more empathetic, fostering employee wellbeing and earning job satisfaction in return. Workers with any telework options are 57% more likely to have a favorable perception of their work culture. 

Struggling to take the leap? Let’s demystify a couple misconceptions around flexibility and remote work. 

Fiction: Flexibility means employees work whenever, wherever they want. 

Fact: Flexibility furthers mental health by prioritizing work-life balance. 

True, some organizations are embracing both fully remote and fully asynchronous work arrangements. Since COVID-19 stay-home orders, these types of job positions have seen a rise in popularity.  

Remember, though, each industry is different. Restaurants, grocery stores, hospitals, and manufacturing plants: Some businesses simply require round-the-clock employees to take care of customers and create products. Flexibility in industries like these means removing strict policies that sound like, “three strikes and you’re out.”  

Attendance is undeniably important; however, increasing PTO gives workers peace of mind to get sick or take care of family without worrying about their next rent payment. And providing the means for employees to easily swap shifts can eliminate fears of job security when life throws a curveball. 

Even in those industries and organizations that can operate virtually, there’s no one-size solution. Some need hybrid workers to be responsive during normal business hours, while others may have fully remote workers each with their own unique schedule.  

There’s no “wrong” way to show more flexibility in the workplace, except to wait. Even small gestures, like a relaxed dress code, can help people show up as their authentic selves and focus their energy on work that truly makes an impact.  

Fiction: Flexibility is a slippery slope towards reduced productivity.  

Fact: Flexibility furthers organizational culture, inclusion, and innovation. 

When culture is created intentionally, remote options can bring increased focus to the work being done. Afterall, without anywhere to “clock-in” physically, employees must show up in all those virtual discussions.  

Instead, flexibility makes space for different types of work styles. The traditional office setup is only ideal for a small portion of people. Whether workers need to take a walk outside or log in from a different location, agency goes hand-in-hand with mental health and productivity.  

When location isn’t a factor, the entire nation becomes recruiting ground. Even partially in-person positions can open the door for diverse talent, decreasing commuting commitments.  

Experts warn that forgoing any flexible working arrangements means employers could be losing out on 70% of qualified candidates. The competition for talent is fierce in today’s market, making things like culture, inclusivity, and flexibility just as important as benefits packages, voluntary offerings, and other traditional perks.  

The good news is remote options can bring together the top industry minds no matter where they live or how they travel. Time and again, diverse teams create cutting-edge products, designed to better meet the needs of customers. The collaboration of experts with different backgrounds and perspectives accelerates innovation.  

It’s clear employees are looking for greater support from their employers and leaders. Flexible policies and practices make a big difference in work-life balance.  

More than a quarter of U.S. employees work remotely with numbers rising consistently. Several best practices, like setting clear expectations, can help pave the way for remote success.