News: Flexibility is critical for business success: Report

Strategic HR

Flexibility is critical for business success: Report

With visible statistics on the employee pulse and predictions on what the future looks like, it’s time to make flexibility a norm and put needed policies in practice.
Flexibility is critical for business success: Report

Research findings from the latest Forrester study commissioned by LogMeIn, Inc., has brought to light some persistent inconsistencies in the hybrid workplace that’s slowing down productivity and culture critical to enable working in the evolving fluid concept of the workplace. The research highlights the mounting need for companies to invest in establishing flexible work policies and programs, and address a sizeable disconnect in trust between decision makers and employees.

While a significant number of reports have found that employees do crave the in-person peer connect, the prolonged work from home arrangement has led to employees also experiencing the significant benefits that come from flexibility, inclining them to hold on to remote working. The Forrester study found that nearly three-quarters of workers said the pandemic made them want to work more remotely in the future, with 83 percent of employees saying that they are more likely to stay at their company if they are allowed to work flexibly. Additionally, 60 percent also expressed a willingness to accept lesser salaries in a trade for flexibility. 

Here are some interesting findings from the study that demand immediate attention and action from decision makers.

Key pillars of enabling seamless and effective flexible work

The Forrester study has identified four pillars of remote work to successfully implement flexible working:

  • Structure 
  • Culture 
  • Technology 
  • Compliance

The research suggests that embracing anywhere-work and focusing on these pillars can help businesses achieve high remote work maturity and ultimately improve employee engagement and satisfaction, strengthen productivity levels, achieve better customer experience, and reduce costs, which can even lead to increased revenue.

The perception divide persists

The perception divide on the impact of remote work on productivity persists. “While 56 percent of employees say they are more productive when working remotely and 61 percent say they can get more done in an 8-hour workday when remote, only 5 percent of decision makers surveyed believe remote workers are more productive, and 70 percent said employees in the office are more trustworthy,” noted the study.

Analyzing perspectives of both employers as well as employees, the study brings to light the alarming difference in outlook that is hampering the ability to build an enabling working culture.

“The results show that business leaders must move away from outdated remote work stigmas and embrace the new way employees want to work. Shifting to an “anywhere” work program is not a simple task, but it is critical for business success.”

Employee happiness and mental well-being are non-negotiable

In the aftermath of the pandemic, the spotlight on mental health shone like never before. The global economy witnessed not just accelerated awareness but also action on ensuring access to reliable sources to maintain and enhance the emotional and psychological well-being of employees. However, the effectiveness remains a question, and it becomes trickier in a remote working environment. 

According to the study, only 44 percent of employees thought their organization was effective at supporting mental health needs when working remotely. Nonetheless, data confirmed that employees at organizations that had implemented a mental health support program were more satisfied with their work, had more energy at their job, and were more likely to remain at their current organization for a long time.

Still need a business case to focus on mental well-being? The findings come to your rescue.

“Employees in the high remote work satisfaction group, compared to their counterparts in the low satisfaction group, were more likely to feel good about their company (89 percent vs 52 percent), feel that their job inspires them (90 percent vs 57 percent), and be satisfied with their work overall (95 percent vs 65 percent).”

The difference in numbers is quite telling of how employees are able to respond to work in the presence of necessary resources to manage their mental health.

Flexible workplace policies have shifted from a debate to a mandate

62 percent of employees say they are happier when working remotely. This statistic, among others that reveal the correlation between employee happiness and productivity must be taken into account when thinking about what the workplace of tomorrow, as well as today, will look like. It has been a year since the pandemic hit the world, and while immediate months were all about response and survival, it’s time we build concrete policies to safeguard both people and the business and be prepared for any uncertainties. However, numbers reveal that we are far from it.

While half of the decision-makers surveyed confirmed that their organizations have a formalized flexible work program in place, less than one percent meet all the specifications of Forrester’s tenets of a flexible work program.

Despite the known benefits of flexibility, only 21 percent of employees say they can choose which work style works best for them.

Additionally, only 38 percent of employees say their organization has documentation related to work styles and only 18 percent have read it. 

Employees who know the criteria are 2X more likely to experience remote work satisfaction, suggested the study. These findings are a wake-up call to rewire policies and practices to meet the employee and business needs of today.

Technology: What got you here will not take you ahead

After years of debate on how technology dampens the human element and leveraging the latest technology is an option and not a critical need, 2020 put to rest all such doubts. Technology remained the sole enabler of human connect, professionally and personally, at a time when there was a severe need to maintain physical distance. But how are organizations faring with respect to their technology capabilities in making remote work seamless?

The study found that while 76 percent of IT decision makers believe a strong remote work technology suite would improve compliance, only 58 percent believe their suite is doing so today, showing there is clearly room for improvement. 

Additionally, while 81 percent of decision-makers claim they are effective in ensuring personal privacy among remote and in-office workers, only 58 percent of employees echo the satisfaction from employers in this segment. 

When it comes to technology, the phrase ‘one size does not fit all’, fits well. What technology to bring in and what purpose it will serve, along with the need for it remains a continuous struggle for many. In fact, while 82 percent of decision makers say the ideal way to make a purchase decision is with equal input from HR and IT, only 51 percent of organizations are making technology decisions this way, found the study.

While flexibility remains a discomfort and a debate for decision makers, the rising cases of COVID only indicate that remote work, and hybrid work are here to stay, for time unknown. To be successful today, there is an undeniable need for employers to adjust working styles and norms to suit the market and employee needs of today.

It’s time for employers to reciprocate the adaptability they seek from their employees. 

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Topics: Strategic HR, Technology, Culture

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