One of the questions I hear most often when speaking with candidates about potential job opportunities is; “Are there any flex-work opportunities at the firm?”. The ability to work flexibly has quickly become a crucial topic when judging the attractiveness of a position in recent times. This flexibility can come in many forms, depending on the needs of the business. It may involve allowing employees to work part-time, to work some of their hours (or all of them) from home or even working on the weekend instead of the regular Monday-Friday week.
Many companies are implementing flexible working in one way or another and as with most work benefits, it completely depends on the nature of the business as to whether this works or not, but how beneficial is this actually for the firm? Recent studies indicate that flexible working does have a number of benefits e.g. creating a better work-life balance, thereby reducing employee stress and helping to make employee hours at work more enjoyable. It is well known that a happy workforce is more productive and therefore more likely to remain loyal to the company. Aside from retention, this also impacts on attraction. In some instances, the perfect candidate for a role might be situated some distance away from the location of the role. Allowing the candidate to work remotely, some or most of the time, could prove to be an efficient solution for both parties.
So why aren’t all employers implementing flexible working arrangements? It can be due to a variety of reasons, as mentioned above sometimes the most common being that the nature of the business does not allow it. Of course, there are still many employers who are reluctant to this setup as they consider physical presence absolutely necessary in order to interact with the team, take part in meetings or have a general presence in the office etc. But often, even if the boss won’t say it clearly – it is all about credibility & performance monitoring and trust – i.e. Management is concerned about a potential loss of productivity. This holds even more true in Germany, where Anwesenheitswahn (presenteeism culture) is still very strong, unlike their Western & Northern European neighbours.
In any case, it is clear that a majority of companies are evolving in this direction and trying to introduce flexible arrangements for their employees. Some studies even claim that within the next 5-10 years, the number of remote positions in Europe will surpass the number of fixed office locations.
Quoting Jason Fried; “One of the secret benefits of using remote workers is that the work itself becomes the yardstick to judge someone’s performance.”
1. UCaaS provider Blueface: “Business Communications Technology” (2018)