The demand for flexible work 'will only accelerate' in coming years as workers feel more empowered


In the past two years, work has changed tremendously as many people shifted to remote work, went through a career change, or quit working altogether. One thing that seems to be favored amongst most workers, however, is flexibility.

According to Nick Lillios, CEO of Nowsta, a workforce management platform, 2022 is the year for flex work. In 2020, many Americans were forced into hybrid and remote work models after the start of the coronavirus pandemic. And according to a recent report from Apollo Technical, an IT and engineering agency, 72% of workers now prefer a flexible work model over returning to office full-time.

Flex work can promote autonomy in areas like making a work schedule or having to show up in person for a shift. Furthermore, it allows managers to customize initiatives and policies to individual employee needs.

“If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that flexibility is key in all aspects of life. More specifically, flexibility in the workforce is in high demand,” Lillios tells CNBC Make It. "We’ve transformed the way we’ve worked and it will only accelerate in the coming years. Not only are employers seeing the benefit of this way of work, but employees are more empowered to take a hold of their work-life balance.”

As Americans continue to quit their jobs at record numbers, those who opt to stay “value flexibility as much as a 10% pay raise,” reports CNBC Make It’s Morgan Smith. According to a report from the ADP Research Institute, 67% of workers say they feel more empowered to take advantage of flexible working arrangements at their companies, compared to only 26% before the pandemic. This puts pressure on employers to ramp up their tactics to ensure employee retention. 

“The significant changes of people moving out of offices to home was a big transition. Moving back to offices is going to take another really big transition,” said ADP SVP of transformation and change communications, Deb Hughes, in a recent YouTube video. “It’s going to be really critical that we’re thinking about what responsibilities people have. Everyone’s in a different place and we have to have patience with them… Flexibility and empathy will get us all through any big changes that we’re moving through.”

Lillios suggests that businesses also find creative ways to access new talent. “Traditional methods in which businesses access talent are not adequate,” he says. “Within the last few years, we’ve seen new models come to fruition, models that are more efficient in hiring high-quality employees on a short-term basis.”

This new wave of workplace flexibility ushers in a sense of employee empowerment, and is critical for positive workplace morale and productivity. According to Owl Labs’ 2021 State of Remote Work report, 90% of employees said that they were as productive or more working remotely instead of in person. Similarly, 84% of workers said that continuing to work from home post-pandemic would make them happier. 

“When businesses adopt new technologies and ways to automate tedious tasks that have to do with the employee, employees feel as though they have an opportunity to take their work into their own hands,” says Lillios. “Providing employees tools to influence when/where/how they work, also gives them a voice. Empowering employees to have a voice will make for happier employees and more successful businesses.”


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