Are Your Workers More Productive Outside the Office?

September 29, 20168:19 am
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More than half (51 percent) employees report that their home is their preferred place to work. 8 percent said they would choose a coffee shop, co-working space, library, or other place besides the office and another 8 percent would choose the office but only outside regular hours.

26 percent go to the office during regular hours to complete important work only because it’s not an option to go elsewhere. In a recent FlexJobs survey of more than 3,000 respondents interested in work flexibility, only 7 percent of workers say the office, during traditional work hours, is their location of choice for optimum productivity on work-related projects.

According to the survey, 65 percent of workers think they would be more productive telecommuting than working in a traditional workplace. The top reasons people say, they are more productive working at home versus the office include fewer interruptions from colleagues (76 percent), fewer distractions (75 percent), and less frequent meetings (69 percent). It’s estimated that up to six hours a day are lost on work interruptions, wasting 28 billion hours a year.

Other reasons people prefer their home office include a reduction in office politics (68 percent), reduced stress from commuting (67 percent), and a more comfortable office environment (51 percent).

“When the overwhelming majority of workers say that traditional office spaces are not conducive to inspiring their highest levels of productivity, something is clearly broken–certainly with the actual workplace environment, but more importantly with the corporate culture that isn’t addressing this problem,” said Sara Sutton Fell, Founder and CEO of FlexJobs.

Additional key findings from the FlexJobs survey include:

Work Flexibility Benefits Diverse Audiences

Work flexibility appeals to diverse audiences and demographics for a wide variety of reasons.

  • Respondents represent various demographics: working parents (39 percent), freelancers (26 percent), introverts (21 percent), entrepreneurs (20 percent), and caretakers (16 percent).
  • Other notable audiences include traveller/digital nomad (11 percent), disabled or managing a chronic illness (11 percent), student (9 percent), environmentalist (4.4 percent), and military spouse (2 percent).
  • Respondents also span generations: Gen Z (1 percent), Millennial/Gen Y (22 percent), Gen X (45 percent), Baby Boomer (27 percent) and the Silent Generation (5%)
  • Work flexibility appeals to highly educated and experienced workers. 80 percent of respondents have a college or graduate degree and 32 percent is senior manager level or higher.
  • 58 percent of people work because they want to travel, up from 30 percent from 2014. Almost as many people seeking work want to travel and save for retirement (65 percent)
  • Other important factors for working include wanting to pay for basic necessities (80 percent), pay off debt (59 percent), have a professional impact in the world (41 percent), contribute to charity (28 percent), and pay for continuing education for themselves (25 percent).

Interest in Work Flexibility is High

Respondents place an extremely high value on work flexibility:

  • Work flexibility (80 percent) was ranked the most important factor when evaluating a job prospect.
  • Work-life balance and salary tied as the second most important factor (74 percent), ranked well above other factors such as health insurance (43 percent), company reputation (41 percent), and retirement benefits (31 percent)
  • 33 percent have actually left a job because it did not have work flexibility
  • 14 percent have considered leaving a job because it did not have work flexibility
  • 18 percent are currently looking for a new job because of work flexibility issues

See: Key Challenges to Productivity at Workplace

Employer Benefits

Employees report being willing to make bottom-line saving sacrifices in exchange for telecommuting options:

  • 29 percent of respondents said they would take a 10 percent or 20 percent cut in pay
  • 22 percent are willing to forfeit vacation time
  • 15 percent said they would give up employer-matching retirement contributions
  • 81 percent of respondents also say they would be more loyal to their employers if they had flexible work options

Improved Health

People surveyed believe flexible options would positively impact their health:

  • 97 percent say a job with flexibility would have a positive impact on their overall quality of life
  • 79 percent think it would make them more healthy
  • 87 percent think it would lower their stress

Reasons for Wanting Flexible Work

Since 2013, work-life balance (79 percent), family (52 percent), time savings (48 percent) and commute stress (47 percent) have been the top four reported reasons people seek flexible work.

  • Time savings has outranked cost savings as a factor in seeking flexible work for the past four years.
  • 72 percent of today’s flexible job seekers have had round-trip commutes over double the national average, which is approximately 50 minutes
  • Of those who telecommuted in 2015, 22 percent telecommute more this year than last year.
  • Only 3 percent of respondents worry a lot that flexible work arrangement will hurt their career progression.

Types of Flexible Work

The most in-demand type of flexible work arrangement continues to be 100 percent telecommuting (86 percent), but flexible schedule (73 percent), partial telecommuting (49 percent), part-time (48 percent), alternative schedule (48 percent), and freelance (44 percent) are also in demand.

“Employers who continue to blindly reinforce antiquated ways of working are going to find themselves with lower performing, less engaged, and less happy employees, whereas those who explore more flexible workplace arrangements such as telecommuting and flexible schedule options are taking advantage of a great competitive opportunity for their company,” added Sara.

Also read: Boost Productivity at Work: Here are 10 Apps for Smarter Working