The Benefits of Flexible Working for Employees and Employers

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2022 by Graham Quinn

As the pandemic slows, many companies are now making decisions about how – or if – they will return to the office. Many leading companies like Microsoft have decided to continue with a hybrid work model they implemented during Covid, with the option to go 100% remote. The company has so much faith in this being the best way to go forward post-pandemic they released a Microsoft Guide to Hybrid Work that outlines its approach to support other companies in their transitions. 

In contrast, many UK companies, do not seem so confident about adopting a work-from-anywhere policy after Covid. A survey by flexible work consultancy Timewise showed that only 26% of UK job ads included flexible work options. However, when it comes to recruitment and retention this is likely to be to their detriment. Research from IWG shows 72% of office workers would prefer a hybrid way of working to a full-time return to the office – even reverting to the old Monday-Friday routine meant earning more money. Research from Momentive (formerly Survey Monkey) reports that ‘more than half of hybrid workers (52%) say they would rather quit their jobs than be forced to go back to the office.’ full time. Ignoring the preferences of employees certainly seems perilous in today’s employee market, with companies struggling to acquire talent and suffering rising resignations. 

Despite employee preferences, offering employees choice over where they work understandably causes anxiety or a feeling of relinquishing control for some companies. However, by reading about the pros, cons and the processes involved in adopting a hybrid workforce post-Covid will help leadership make an informed decision for their companies which is preferable to returning to the office solely for the sake of tradition. 


The Benefits of Choosing a Hybrid Model for Recruitment and Retention


  1. Hybrid helps Retain Employees in Today’s Employee Market


Research suggests employers who choose not to offer hybrid for the future will struggle to fill positions and retain employees. Choosing a hybrid model allows you to meet the flexibility needs of all employees.

A recent Hybrid Working Study by Harvard Business Review, asked over 5,000 knowledge workers globally what they wanted from the future of their work arrangement. ‘59% of respondents reported that “flexibility” is more important to them than salary or other benefits, and 77% said they would prefer to work for a company that gives them the flexibility to work from anywhere rather than fancy corporate headquarters.’

Flexibility is what prospective employees value the most and will make all the difference in both their decision to stay with a company post-pandemic and which companies they choose in a job search.


  1. Happier and Healthier Employees = reduced Absenteeism and Improved Retention


Hybrid working is shown to make employees healthier and happier. Fewer visits to the office mean less time spent in stressful commutes. Reclaiming hours that were formerly spent on trains or in cars enables people to spend more time with family and friends, take regular exercise and cook healthier food. These physical, mental, and emotional benefits make a significant positive impact on employees’ daily lives. In return, employers benefit from more relaxed, resilient, and motivated staff. Happier employees are also more loyal: loyalty means cost reductions for employers through improved retention and reduced absenteeism.


  1. Widens Talent Pool


Remote work and virtual recruiting have become widely used during the pandemic. One of its main benefits for companies is that firms can look beyond their usual talent pools to find best-fit candidates for posts, and not just those who happen to live within commutable distances. Offering remote or hybrid options increases the chances of finding applicants for vacancies that were previously difficult to fill.


  1. Allows Employers to Attract Better Quality Candidates


The geographically wider talent pools which remote and hybrid working allow also increase your chances of finding candidates with the right skills and qualifications than is available in your local area. Offering remote options allows enterprises to attract top-quality candidates whose family and other commitments would have previously precluded them from working at your location. Also, it reduces the relocation expenses which once may have prevented you from casting a wider net in your talent search previously.


  1. Improves Diversity and Inclusivity


Research shows that women in the UK still bear most of the responsibility for childcare. Remote work gives women the flexibility to manage work and family responsibilities. This makes your company more diverse and inclusive which means teams get to learn and share ideas with different people of different backgrounds. According to the World Economic Forum, the business case for diversity in the workplace is now overwhelming. Its research shows with diversity comes ‘increased profitability and creativity, stronger governance and better problem-solving abilities.’

  1. Virtual Hiring can Improve the Management Selection Process


Although shifting to a remote recruitment process can seem daunting and involves adapting your recruitment processes, the shift to online recruitment can actually improve the quality of hires, particularly for leadership roles.

A study by Iowa’s Drake University tracked 220 US-based teams, assessing which people suggested themselves as preferable for leadership roles depending on whether they were

hiring in-person or virtually. Interestingly, the face-to-face teams tended to choose leaders who were extroverted, attractive and charismatic, whereas the remote teams chose leaders those who were skilled at planning and helped their teammates and getting things done. This showed how virtual hiring can prevent us from being blinded by a person’s charm as we might be in person, and focus instead on the qualities that create good managers. 

In Conclusion

One of the main benefits of offering flexible working comes from improving acquisition and retention through offering what employees want. However, offering hybrid and remote options also brings many less obvious benefits, not only boosting productivity through reduced absenteeism and improved employee loyalty to enabling you to find and hire better quality candidates. According to a study by PwC, 83% of employers who have made the shift say that offering flexible working options has been successful for their company.

With the additional bonus of reduced real estate costs and environmental benefits, it’s not surprising that many companies, like Microsoft, are realising it makes sense to continue with a hybrid work model they experimented with during Covid.


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