Employees Increasingly Demand Flexibility, Study Says

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By Genevieve Douglas

Oct. 14 — Flexibility in when and where work gets done is increasingly important to employees, the vast majority of whom are willing to leave their current job for one that offers more flexibility, according to research released Oct. 13 by Softchoice, a provider of information technology solutions and managed services.

The study, “Death of the Desk Job,” found that 78 percent of employees highly value the ability to access work from outside the office and 70 percent would leave their job for one that offers more flexibility, including the ability to work remotely more often.

As technology allows people to work when they want, where they want and how they want, “employees demand” flexibility, Francis Li, vice president of information technology at Softchoice, told Bloomberg BNA Oct. 14.

Employees have an expectation now that is very different from previous generations in that they expect employers to support this more fluid approach to work, Li said.

Softchoice found that nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of respondents believe they’re more productive working outside the office. Moreover, most respondents feel the 9-to-5 workday is passe, as 61 percent stated they prefer working the equivalent of an eight-hour workday broken up over a longer period, rather than in a single block.

The study's findings are based on responses from 1,700 full-time employees in the U.S. and Canada.

Few Policies in Place 

While the study shows that organizations are enabling a mobile workforce, most are not governing one. It found that 59 percent of employees receive a device from their employer for work in and out of the office, but just 24 percent of employers have set clear policies and expectations around appropriate work activities after business hours.

“Though many organizations enable remote work by issuing corporate devices, technology alone isn't enough to fulfill evolving employee needs,” David MacDonald, president and chief executive officer at Softchoice, said in the study's press release. “Not everyone has the same definition of work-life balance, so it’s up to the employer to set clear expectations around acceptable work activities beyond business hours.”

According to Softchoice, over half (57 percent) of employees can work remotely on personal or sick days, and 44 percent worked during their most recent vacation.

Respondents also stated that working remotely has freed up their personal lives. Three-quarters of the study participants said they’re able to keep more family, social and personal commitments because they can remotely access work any time they need.

To contact the reporter on this story: Genevieve Douglas in Washington at gdouglas@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Nadel at snadel@bna.com

An infographic on the report is available at http://blogs.softchoice.com/itgrok/death-desk-job/.