A report by Bain & Company and Chief Executive Women has found that 95% of employees would take up a flexible work arrangement in the next three years if it were offered by their employer. The overwhelming majority of employers also said that they had maintained or boosted productivity during the past 15 months of remote work.
The report calls on senior leaders, especially males, to embrace flexible work so that working from home and other flexible work arrangements are not just seen as a “women’s issue”:
[The report] found more than 90 per cent of managers said they maintained or improved their productivity, engagement and achievement while working from home and 80 per cent of respondents said flexibility was viewed more favourably now than before the pandemic.
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Flexibility was a no-brainer, with 95 per cent saying they would take a flex arrangement in the next three years if offered by their company. It has an impact on gender equity but the figures are relatively low, with 43 per cent of women – who report that working from home loads them up with more domestic tasks – saying their workplace has become more equal thanks to remote work.
There are, however, downsides from remote work cited in the report, namely:
- Women are worried that working from home hurts their chances of promotion and being taken seriously by their boss; and
- Young workers miss out on on-the-job training, mentoring and the comradery that comes from onsite work.
My view is that remote work has eliminated a wasteful part of the production process by eliminating the need for millions of workers to waste money, fuel and time travelling into central locations to work. It has also provided greater work/life flexibility.
That said, the downsides mentioned above are real. Therefore, a hybrid model where employees work part from home and part at the office seems to be the most suitable and productive workplace structure long-term.
The hybrid model arguably offers the best trade-off in terms flexibility and productivity, and seems to be preferred by most employees according to workplace surveys.