Flexible working. It’s the holy grail of job hunting. Having worked places where the privilege of getting to work from home one day a fortnight was an amazing, if hard won, benefit, I thought I understood the appeal.
Joining PwC Australia, however, was like entering a new workplace dimension. Here, employees are not only allowed to work flexibly, they’re encouraged to. There is no dress code, there are no set hours, and the technology – such as video technology that people actually use or cloud options that work more easily than desktop options to share and collaborate with workmates – has been used to eliminate any barriers that co-locating might create.
I’ll admit the freedom took me a little bit by surprise, such was the cultural change from the traditional Australian workplace. But it truly does make a difference, not just to my work life, but to my quality of life.
Working from home a couple of days a week was an adjustment, but the reduction in stress of travel time, or being tied to ‘the 9-5 job,’ has allowed for (real) work-life balance. Weekends have ceased being two sacrosanct days devoted to decompressing. Does that inspire a loyalty and willingness in me to give back to my employer? You betcha.
For business, this is something to take seriously. As jobs become automated and employees reskilled, the scramble for talent is intensifying and flexible working will become a key lever in attracting and retaining employees. In fact, our recent CEO Survey found that 78% of CEOs are implementing flexible ways of working to do just that. And if, once you attract that talent they are happier and more productive, who’s going to complain?
Granted, working from home isn’t for everyone, but from what I’ve seen here at PwC those that feel they work poorly at home tend to come into the office instead – and as it’s their choice, they’re happier to do so. As the infographic below points out, it’s all a question of trust. If you treat your staff like adults, they’ll likely behave like them.
Flexible working is an option that should be seriously considered if it suits the type of work being done in your company. Not because it’s a way to bribe millenials with bells and whistles, but because of the positive consequences it will have on the business itself.
And yes, I wrote this in my pajamas.