Why Flexible Working Arrangements are More Important Now than Ever

A woman working on her home computer while holding a baby

Even before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, flexible working arrangements were quite common amongst employers in Australia. In fact, in 2018, Indeed data found that Australia was leading the way in family-friendly and flexible working conditions. But with COVID-19 showing that having a remote workforce of some kind is achievable, can employees and employers go back to a pre-COVID work schedule?

Dubbed the world’s largest work-from-home experiment, the coronavirus has made what was once thought impossible not only a reality, but a new way of work for many organisations. With some companies allowing their employees to work from home for the remainder of the year, or forever, and other countries considering a four-day work week, it seems that the COVID-19 outbreak has transformed flexible working into something entirely new. Gone are the days when flexible working arrangements meant being able to work from home once a week, or coming into the office an hour earlier in order to leave an hour earlier. With employees now potentially expecting more from their flexible working arrangements, employers might have to consider catering to those expectations or risk losing talent.

In this blog, we take a look at why remote working has been a success for employees, and what employers can do to keep this momentum going even when they start implementing their ‘back-to-office’ plans.

Employees are more productive and engaged when working from home
56% of employees found themselves to be mroe productive working from home and 48% of employees feel more engaged with their work while working from home

Surprisingly, despite 41%1 of employees in Australia working from home (with other adults and children around), 56%1 found themselves more productive, and 48%1 found themselves more engaged while working from home than from the office.

When asked why they thought they were more engaged, 60%1 said it was because they were able to focus more, 43%1 said it was because they were more motivated to show their productivity and 41%1 said it was because they had greater purpose for their work. As a result, even with the distractions of children and household duties that almost half of employees experience while working from home, they’re seemingly not as draining to productivity as the distractions that employees face when going into the office everyday.

Employees who work from home are more likely to remain in their current roles longer
60% of employees reported they would definitely or might stay at their employer for longer than they would have before this work from home move

Working from home has resulted in many employees in Australia being more content and satisfied in their current roles. For example, most reported they aren’t looking for a job—with 50%1 wanting to stay where they are and 34%1 not actively looking, but open to opportunities. While this could be attributed to the current uncertainty in Australia’s labour market, 60%1 of respondents said this work from home experience has changed their attitudes towards their job and as a result, they might or would definitely stay at their employer for longer.

Employees are prioritising work from home arrangements
42% of employees are very or somewhat likely to leave their current job for a permanent work from home job when returning to the office

For many employees, this work-from-home experiment has shifted their priorities when looking for future opportunities. While flexible hours has been one of the top three factors that attract job seekers to a new job, it seems that after working from home for an extended period of time, job seekers are making it more of a priority going forward. In fact, 60%1 view having the ability to work from home as a much or somewhat greater priority, and 42%1 said they are somewhat or very likely to leave for a work from home job after returning to the office.

How to continue to have a productive and thriving remote workforce

During these unprecedented times, it’s more important than ever for organisations to pave the way for their employees’ success. It seems that working from home has allowed employees to be more productive and feel more connected to their work. As a result, there could be negative backlash if employers were to revert back to pre-COVID flexible working arrangements – such as lower levels of productivity and motivation amongst employees and possibly even employee turnover.

To help you continue to have a productive and thriving remote workforce while implementing a back-to-office strategy, we’ve created an e-book: Navigating Hiring and Managing a Remote Workforce, that offers a comprehensive overview of the benefits and challenges of having a remote workforce, and includes strategies on how you can support your remote employees. Download your copy today to ensure your organisation’s new flexible working arrangements meet your employees needs and help to support them.

1Indeed survey, n=600

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