Global research shows that flexible working is now a deal breaker in the war for talent

Global research shows that flexible working is now a deal breaker in the war for talent

IWG reveals the results of the largest ever poll on flexible working attitudes - 75% of the 15,000 respondents from 80 different countries around the world believe that flexible working has become the new normal.

Survey, Flexible working hours, IWG

New findings by annual IWG Global Workspace Survey suggest that businesses that do not have a flexible workspace* policy risk losing out on top talent. Research conducted by leading flexible workspace provider shows that 83% of people globally would choose a job which offered flexible working over a job that didn’t, and almost a third (28%) of people value being able to choose their work location over an increase in holiday allowance.

IWG has released a study based on insights of over 15,000 professionals from a range of different industries in 80+ countries. The survey was independently managed by MindMetre Research. The sample is highly representative of senior managers and owners in businesses across the globe, spanning a variety of industries.

In India, the survey found that 61% office-goers believe that official working hours should include time spent commuting to and from work as this is not free time for workers. Also, 41% said commuting to/from work is the part of the working day which they like the least.

In light of these findings it’s unsurprising that in the past ten years, 85% of businesses have introduced a flexible workspace policy, or are planning to adopt one. The findings signal that, when it comes to dictating what an average working day entails, there has been a power shift towards the employee.

However, not all businesses have been able to embrace the concept. 60% of those surveyed say that changing the organizational culture is the main barrier to implementing a flexible workspace policy, particularly within businesses that have a long-standing, non-flexible working approach. Over a third (41%) say that fear of how flexible working may impact the overall company culture is the biggest obstacle.  

Mark Dixon, CEO and founder of IWG, said “Last year our Global Workspace Survey talked about reaching a tipping point, but what we are seeing now is that flexible working is considered by many to be the new norm for any business that is serious about productivity, agility and winning the war for top talent. Indeed, half of all our respondents claim to work outside their main office location for at least half of the week.” 

He also added, “Businesses around the world are facing multiple challenges including ensuring that their business is agile enough to adapt to change. Our research shows that businesses that haven’t already considered the financial and strategic benefits of flexible workspace need to do so now. Otherwise, they face being seen as out of touch, both with their competitors and with the demands of the modern workforce on what constitutes a great day at work, which means losing out on the best talent.” 

Attracting and retaining talent 
Findings show that 71% of businesses globally and 81% in India, think that offering flexible working enables them to expand their talent pool. In fact, many (77% globally and 81% in India) of businesses are adapting to improve talent retention by introducing flexible working. From an employee’s point of view, a third of people would say that flexible working is so important, they would prioritize it over having a more prestigious role (32% globally and 49% in India). 

Perhaps this is due to an increasing focus on work/life balance: flexible working is seen to improve this balance by 78% globally and 86% in India. The findings also show that flexible workspace is seen to encourage a more inclusive working environment, with benefits for returning parents, older workers, people suffering from stress or struggling with mental health issues.

Flexibility not only makes workers happier and healthier but makes workforces more productive: 85% of businesses globally and in India confirm that productivity has increased in their business because of greater flexibility. What’s more, two thirds (67%) of those surveyed report at least a 21% improvement in productivity as a result of flexible working. These figures are given greater weight considering the UN states that the global slowdown in productivity is one of the most prominent features of the world economy in recent years. 

Agility and uncertainty
In these uncertain times, it’s clear that businesses are prioritising agility and cost efficiencies. 55% of businesses surveyed globally and 61% in India said they are looking to be more agile in 2019. Over a third of businesses are looking to expand internationally this year, and the majority of respondents (64%) say that they have chosen flexible working because it accelerates speed to market in new countries. 66% also choose flexible working to help them to scale. The flexible workspace has also been chosen by 65% to reduce capital and operational expenditure. The same number of respondents have adopted flexible workspace to help manage risks, and to consolidate their portfolio. 

No more commuting?  
The findings also show that two-fifths of people worldwide see commuting as the worst part of the day (40% globally and 41% in India) and more than half of respondents believe that it could be obsolete in a decade (2030). Pressure has been mounting as commuters are increasingly disgruntled by their journey to work, and one in five (22% globally and 23% in India) respondents would say that they are ‘regularly late’ for work due to travel disruptions. Almost half (48% globally and 46% in India) of workers spend their commute working, and as a result, nearly half (42% globally and 61% in India) think that official working hours should include time spent on their journey, as this does not constitute ‘free time’ in their day. 

The new normal 
For many employers and employees, flexible working is now the norm. Half (50%) of those surveyed state that they now work outside their company’s main location for at least half the working week or more, and for 70% of people, a choice of work environment is a key factor when evaluating new career opportunities. Flexible working is a model that provides employers with the opportunity to increase productivity, attract talent and adapt to changing circumstances, and something that will, therefore, prove invaluable as we look at uncertain times ahead.

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