8 reasons why flexible working is here to stay and how your organization can benefit
The pandemic has disrupted the tenets of traditional workplaces and workplace practices. It has normalized an era of remote working which includes working from home or from a shared workspace convenient to the employee. Business leaders and employees alike, have embraced a new culture of productivity, inclusivity, and connectedness.
Technological advancements have meant companies have been able to extend this “perk” to employees on a long-term basis. Tech companies including Facebook, Google, Paypal have offered on-going remote working arrangements to their employees. While on the other side of the argument, more traditional financial services organizations have deemed remote working an ‘aberration’.
Despite the spectrum of opinions, a survey by PwC found that 70% of Financial Services companies in the USA who had over 60% of their staff working remotely have expressed that remote working has been successful during the pandemic. From the employee perspective, over 80% support the idea of working from home at least one day a week. Globally, most companies have started trialing ‘hybrid work arrangements’, wherein employees split their time between home and the office. Time previously spent commuting has been channeled into family or in nurturing new hobbies. Now, the resounding message is that the vast majority (73%) of employees as surveyed in the World Trend Index 2021 want flexible remote working practices to stay.
1. A more energized, engaged, and productive workforce:
We live in an era where ‘time is money’. As highlighted above, the single biggest change for employees is the elimination of the commute. Individuals have been able to swap their peak-hour, crammed MTR morning commute time with a slow, connected, walk together with their children to school or a with a quick hobby session before a return to the ‘home office’. While for some others, that hectic lunchtime rush to score a table at one of the busy cafes in the central business district has been replaced by a run around the neighborhood or a swim in the ocean. The hasty evening commute for some others has been replaced by a new hobby.
While we might be stating the obvious, for many employees, a hectic, rushed, enervating commute has been replaced with an energizing refreshing ritual. An energized employee is an engaged one, while an engaged employee is a productive one. Even before the pandemic, an International Working Group (IWG) survey reported that 85% of the businesses surveyed reported at least a 21% improvement in productivity due to flexible work offerings.
2. Attracting and retaining talent:
Millennials (born between 1983 and 1994) were the first to disrupt traditional workplace practices. Millennials and Gen Z (born between 1995 and 2003) who continued to challenge traditional workplace cultures of presenteeism and profits employees now represent the largest demographic in the workforce. This change in workplace demographic coincides with the rise in technology and growth in shared workplace hubs allowing companies to break away from traditional workplace norms.
The IWG survey also showed that even before the pandemic, over 80% of employees would turn down a job that didn’t offer flexible working. The pandemic has shown that archaic workplace practices are on the way out. Employees have thrived under flexible working conditions while employers have realized that flexible working in most instances is achievable. We have seen instances where governments have intervened to ensure employees will have the right to request flexible working from the time they start a job. Thus, offering flexibility will provide employers the opportunity to access a diverse and talented pool of potential employees who value some degree of flexibility in the workplace.
3. Increased employee autonomy leading to a trust-based culture:
Remote working comes with empowering the employee with a certain degree of autonomy. Autonomy allows the employee to prioritize when and how the work will be done, while ensuring deadlines of deliverables are met. By providing greater autonomy to employees, employers are required to trust them to make responsible decisions for the greater good of their stakeholders. This promotes a trust-based culture which in turn is linked to increased employee engagement and satisfaction.
4. More transparent communication and access to organizational leaders:
With the rise in hybrid work, a greater number of reputable c-suite executives use social networks to communicate real-time messages to a wider audience. Unlike scripted speeches or press releases, these messages are often authentic and empowering, offering greater insights into the individual. From an employee’s perspective, this provides a greater connection and sense of empathy with the leaders.
5. Feeling of inclusion
During the hard ‘work from home’ phase, employees felt a greater sense of inclusion given everyone was in the same virtual room. The move to hybrid working will require greater thought and planning so employees are given the tools they require to work remotely. The trend of organizations partnering with shared workspace providers is on the rise. This gives employees the opportunities to continue working remotely, while offering the necessary infrastructure to ensure they can operate in a practical, efficient, and professional environment.
6. Cost Reduction
The move to a hybrid workforce has prompted organizations to rethink their real-estate needs. Gone are the days where 100% of the workforce is in from 9 to 5. We have observed organizations reevaluate their needs, design fresher, more ergonomic and collaborative spaces. These flexible office spaces must be designed to improve employee engagement when employees are in the office. Partnering with shared workspaces ensures employers can meet their employees’ space and infrastructure needs while working remotely. These decisions can lead to significant cost savings via reduced rent, overheads, utilities, and supplies.
7. Safety of Employees and the Community
Even as vaccination rates increase, health experts warn that social distancing measures are here to stay for at least a while longer. In the interest of ensuring employee safety and to reduce discomfort to employees who are reluctant to travel frequently, many organizations continue to offer hybrid and/or remote working to their employees. This in turn ensures corporates are doing their part in keeping their communities safe.
8. Mental Health and Wellness
While some employees have continued to thrive while working from home, the Microsoft 2021 World Trend Index shows that 67% of the employees crave greater face-to-face interaction and collaborations. The concept of ‘Work-Life Balance’ has been replaced by ‘Work-Life Harmony’. This is unique to each employee and there is no one size fits all on this topic. However, full remote work from home could lead to loneliness and have an adverse effect on affect mental health. Thus, it is important to create opportunities to ensure employees remain connected with their teams and are provided opportunities and the infrastructure to draw upon these face-to-face human interactions while optimizing employee wellness. Organizations that have partnered with shared workspace providers, wherein their employees can access workspaces at locations that best suit them have reported improvement in employee morale. This arrangement minimizes commute while offering opportunities for face-to-face interactions with organization members and community members from the shared workspace.
How can Metro Workspace serve your organization and employee’s hybrid working needs?
Metro Workspace is an innovative and forward-thinking disruptor in Hong Kong’s real-estate market. Metro Workspace offers flexible, affordable, inspiring workspaces for Hong Kong’s thriving SMEs and entrepreneurs. We have created an eco-system for members to enjoy beautiful, affordable, lifestyle-centric workspaces across the city designed to inspire creativity and connection.
Metro Workspace understand the importance of flexibility and hybrid working. With eight locations across Hong Kong’s most popular business and creative districts, corporates in Hong Kong, Metro Workspace is positioned to meet your organization’s need for a well-equipped, ergonomic, and professional shared workspace while offering employees the convenience to be able to access a location convenient to them, minimizing commute time.
Building a sense of community is at the heart of what Metro Workspace does. Not only will employees have the opportunity to continue to interact with members the organization but they will have the opportunity to interact with our diverse clients who include individuals from corporates, SME’s and freelancers. Finally, Metro Workspace brings new value to landlords, finding quality tenants and securing revenue in all market conditions.
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