The Future is Flexible
When it comes to work trends, one thing is clear: the future is all about flexibility – but what does that really mean? Like many things, it tends to mean something different to just about everyone, as there is no ‘one-size-fits-all approach’ when it comes to applying it to the workplace. As many companies seek to craft their definition of adaptable work policies, CC Pace is in the middle of the crosscurrents in deciphering the right balance of flexibility, both for our staff and our team of consultants who are navigating various clients’ policies and expectations.
While we can’t tell you what policies are right for your organization, we can share some of the impacts we’ve seen these decisions have when it comes to recruiting. It should come as no surprise that companies with the strictest remote work policies are having the hardest time finding, and retaining, top talent. They’re having to dig deeper into their pockets to make a hire and are losing good employees to their competition at unprecedented rates. In fact, according to a recent poll, 54% of workers said they’d leave their current job for one that provided more flexibility.
Employers with varying ranges of flexibility (hybrid to fully remote options) attract up to an average of seven times more applicants than fully onsite positions (CareerBuilder). Job seekers have spoken, and they want flexible work options. So much so that, on average, they are willing to take a 14% salary decrease to work remotely, according to a recent survey by ZipRecruiter. Companies with flexible options are less likely to roll out the red carpet to get top talent and go into high-stakes salary negotiations compared to their inflexible competitors.
While employees mostly adjusted well to the changing landscape of this new work environment, companies (read: management), have had mixed results. We see continued refinements as hiring managers try to balance where the future is headed with how their positions stack up relative to the competitive alternatives that job seekers have. This often leads to misaligned expectations – job requirements that say, “completely remote,” to maintain a competitive edge, while managers casually mention to the recruiters that they’d ‘really like it if the candidate was within driving distance to the office’ so that they could ‘occasionally meet up.’ In other cases, all positions are hybrid roles, with no exceptions (although exceptions are made for the ideal candidate). This behavior is confusing and can contribute to a costly increase in turnover as current staff asks, “but what about me?”.
In our experience as a consulting firm, this newfound ability of clients to work with a hybrid/distributed workforce has allowed us to expand with clients that we would not have previously been able to support. Take a manufacturer who is located far from a major city; working with them to transform their IT department would have been cost-prohibitive in terms of sustained travel expenses. The happy middle ground here is spending some time face-to-face up front to establish the basic bonds necessary to be successful throughout the engagement. In this case, we need an employee who can ‘travel a little’ and would rule out anyone who cannot. Surprisingly, there are plenty of job seekers that remain adamant on being ‘fully remote’.
These observations don’t appear to be post-pandemic trends that will die out when the market shifts. In the world of technology services, we have seen that when the C-suite mandates ‘no remote work,’ it pushes away the top talent. After all, these are the same people logging in from home on the weekend when the system goes down, aren’t they? Beyond location, Europe’s 4-day workweek trial run in 2022 caught the attention of both employees and employers alike (albeit maybe for different reasons) and has inspired a lot of chatter stateside. Currently, Maryland has a bill on the table that, if passed, would offer major tax incentives to any businesses that scale back to a 4-day (32-hour) work week without employees losing any pay or benefits. It would be a major shakeup to the US workforce. But that’s for another post…
The bottom line is flexibility isn’t just good for your employee morale. It’s good for your bottom line. Companies with the right balance of flexibility save on upfront recruiting costs, employee turnover and can find higher-quality resources than their less-flexible counterparts. The haves and the have-nots have turned into the flexible and the inflexible.
All sides point to flexibility as a work trend that’s here to stay. In response to this trend, we’re creating an ease of coworking index offering to help organizations measure how easy it is for employees and teams to work together – particularly in remote and hybrid environments. Keep an eye out for this service to be released later in the year!