Flexible work is here to stay

The acceleration of technology has created a buffer for businesses to stay productive and keep workers happy in COVID. Social networks, collaborative software and Zoom have been a godsend (never could have predicted that, three decades ago).

Employees like the freedom and independence of this lifestyle, with push-back on returning to workplaces. They get to claim utilities and equipment, with no commuting and more family time. What’s not to love?  I’ve heard this called a “social revolution”.

A Bloomberg survey of 1,000 U.S. employees in May found 39% would consider quitting if their bosses weren’t flexible about them working from home.

It’s also easier to run your own business from home, and virtually oversee operations.  It’s unnecessary to be there all the time.  This helps explain the trend towards leaving cities for a tree change.

Australia’s regional housing market outpaced capital cities in the last 12 months, rising 13% (compared with a 6.4% gain in capital cities), according to latest Core Logic’s update.

Of course, this calls on a different mindset (there’s two sides to this coin).  It can be lonely, but there are new apps in the wellbeing space to help alleviate this. The endless barrage of e-communications can be overwhelming.  Digital exhaustion is a real threat, without the opportunity to bounce ideas around the water cooler.

There’s push-back from employers, too, and a sense that teams perform best when people are together.  Many businesses are heavily invested in buildings and assets (mortgages and expenses don’t stop for a pandemic).  Then there’s the supply chain of small businesses and CBD cafes, dependent on the discretionary spend of workers (who now work from home, in droves).

We’re likely to meet in the middle – a hybrid model with time spread between the office and home. COVID may be under control, but employee expectations have fundamentally shifted.  Flexible work is here to stay, and will be critical to attract and retain talent.  This gives employees the best of both worlds, and the tools they need to contribute from wherever they happen to be.

Compiled by Jan Gadsden, Founder/Director of Top Office Group Pty Ltd.