Workplace Flexibility as a Strategy

Monday, December 19 2022

Marc Lacoursiere – Before the pandemic, the debate about workplace flexibility was a hot topic. Employee retention challenges were a catalyst in organizational design. Balancing productivity, work/life balance, office costs, socialization and more have resulted in complicated decisions for employers.

Pre- Pandemic Studies on Productivity

This report in Huffington Post shares that working from home (WFH) could be unproductive if boundaries were not considered. Conversely, this study in, found WFH could be beneficial.

Recent Studies on Productivity

More studies have emerged since the pandemic with widely varying positions regarding the impacts of WFH on businesses. In a world where attracting and retaining talent is the biggest issue for employers, McKinsey reports that workplace flexibility is one of the top three factors in worker movement. On the other hand, there is an article from the NYPost claiming that productivity suffers due to WFH: Remote workers put in longer hours but were less efficient.

Business owners are divided as to whether WFH is a boon or a blunder. Depending on their bias, they can easily point to examples like those above that support either position. There are legitimate concerns from business leaders about the risk of disconnect that might occur without the social interaction that occurs in the office.

The Right Strategy Depends

Companies like Microsoft and Intuit are supporting 100% remote work strategies. Their business models make it easy to divest from bricks and mortar and save money doing it. Companies getting a lot of press for their back-to-work stance include Tesla and Google. At first, Google wanted everyone back in the office.  Now, they will have up to 20% of its workforce working from home.  Twitter was very supportive of workplace flexibility until Elon Musk bought them. He says they can choose to work 40 hours per week at home if they want, however, they are also expected to be in the office for 40 hours per week!

Some jobs allow the person doing it the flexibility to work where they want. Other jobs require employees to be in the office. If your business creates a product, you are in retail or a service industry, it may be impossible to properly serve the client with employees working from home. The right decision for your employees, customers, and company depends.

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