How Different Industries are Approaching Flexibility in the Workplace
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The new Flex Index report has revealed the latest trends in how different companies and industries approach flexibility in the workplace. With remote and hybrid work becoming a reality for many companies due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial for organizations to understand the new landscape of work and adapt to these changes. I helped 21 companies transition to hybrid and remote work, and I found it valuable to provide an external benchmark to my clients. Let’s take a closer look at the report's findings and what they mean for companies and employees.
Fully Flexible and Structured Hybrid
According to the Flex Index report, 8% of companies are fully remote. One example of this from my clients is a mid-sized IT company that made the switch to full remote work in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The company had previously experimented with remote work, but the pandemic made it clear that it was the way of the future. The company's employees have embraced the change, reporting increased productivity and a better work-life balance.
Meanwhile, 23% of companies have a flexible hybrid approach, allowing employees to choose which days they come into the office. The Flex Index refers to these two modalities as “fully flexible,” given they allow employees complete flexibility on where and how to work.
Other companies follow a more structured approach to hybrid work. 9% of companies require a minimum number of days in the office per week, while 6% have specific days that employees must come into the office. Only 4% have both a minimum and specific days. 1% have a minimum percentage of time employees must spend in the office.
For example, a large insurance services company with over 1,000 employees that I helped transition to long-term hybrid work arrangements adopted a structured hybrid approach. Namely, it adopted a standard of one day per week when all staff in a department came to the office to balance the need for in-person collaboration with the benefits of remote work; it also allowed teams to determine for themselves what to do for the rest of the work week. The company found that having a specific day in the office allowed employees to focus on teamwork and face-to-face meetings, while having the flexibility to work from home on other days increased productivity and reduced burnout.
Industry and Company Size
Of all companies, 51% allow hybrid work and 49% do not. Most of the 49% are in frontline industries, such as restaurants and retail.
By contrast, 80% of tech companies are highly flexible, either fully remote or a flexible hybrid. 60% of professional service companies and 59% of media companies have similarly embraced full flexibility. Financial services companies come in at 47%, and insurance companies are at 42%.
Another client, a small professional services firm with about 80 employees, found that a flexible hybrid model allows for increased productivity and a better work-life balance for employees. This has resulted in higher morale and improved retention rates for the company, while also boosting output.
Company size also plays a role in the approach to flexibility. 65% of companies with fewer than 500 employees are highly flexible, while only 28% of companies with over 1,000 employees have embraced this approach. This may be due to the challenges that larger companies face in implementing remote and hybrid work, but it also shows the potential for change in the future.
For those companies who have adopted a structured hybrid approach with minimum days in the office, the report found that 48% of these decisions are made company-wide, 29% depend on the employee's function, 17% are made by the manager, and 6% are made by others.
One example is a media company where the decision is based on the employee's function. The company found that this approach allows for a balance between in-person collaboration and remote work for different roles: thus, designers can spend more time working in the office to collaborate and innovate, while programmers spent more time at home to do head-down focused work. Such an approach ensures that employees have the flexibility they need to do their jobs effectively.
The Flexibility Index report provides valuable insights into how companies and industries are approaching flexibility in the workplace. As remote and hybrid work become more prevalent, it's crucial for organizations to understand these trends and adapt to the new reality of work. By embracing flexibility, companies can improve employee wellbeing, increase productivity, and stay ahead of the curve in an ever-changing world of work.
As remote and hybrid work become more prevalent, it's crucial for organizations to understand these trends and adapt to the new reality of work by embracing flexibility..>Click to tweet
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Lauded as “Office Whisperer” and “Hybrid Expert” by The New York Times, Dr. Gleb Tsipursky helps leaders use hybrid work to improve retention and productivity while cutting costs. He serves as the CEO of the boutique future-of-work consultancy Disaster Avoidance Experts. Dr. Gleb wrote the first book on returning to the office and leading hybrid teams after the pandemic, his best-seller Returning to the Office and Leading Hybrid and Remote Teams: A Manual on Benchmarking to Best Practices for Competitive Advantage (Intentional Insights, 2021). He authored seven books in total, and is best know for his global bestseller, Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (Career Press, 2019). His cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 650 articles and 550 interviews in Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, USA Today, CBS News, Fox News, Time, Business Insider, Fortune, and elsewhere. His writing was translated into Chinese, Korean, German, Russian, Polish, Spanish, French, and other languages. His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training for Fortune 500 companies from Aflac to Xerox. It also comes from over 15 years in academia as a behavioral scientist, with 8 years as a lecturer at UNC-Chapel Hill and 7 years as a professor at Ohio State. A proud Ukrainian American, Dr. Gleb lives in Columbus, Ohio. In his free time, he makes sure to spend abundant quality time with his wife to avoid his personal life turning into a disaster. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, follow him on LinkedIn @dr-gleb-tsipursky, Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, Facebook @DrGlebTsipursky, Medium @dr_gleb_tsipursky, YouTube, and RSS, and get a free copy of the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace by signing up for the free Wise Decision Maker Course at https://disasteravoidanceexperts.com/newsletter/.
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