the future of flexible work 

Flexible work has become a hot topic among employers, employees and researchers alike. Flexible work arrangements, such as remote work and hybrid models, have been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic and are likely to continue in the future. The trend towards flexible work has been driven by a number of factors, including advances in technology, shifting societal attitudes, and changing employee preferences. Randstad's latest Workmonitor report shows that despite potential economic uncertainty, New Zealand employees continue to place a high value on flexibility, both in terms of working hours and location.

Our report found that 81.9% of Kiwi workers consider flexibility in terms of working hours to be important, compared to a similar number globally (82.9%). Additionally, 67.8% of New Zealand workers believe that flexibility in terms of location is important, compared to 71% globally.

In this blog, we'll explore various aspects of flexible work including the future of flexible work, what the research on flexible work in New Zealand highlights and the impact of flexible work on workplace culture and the growing imperative of inclusion.

group of workers sitting at a desk in an office
group of workers sitting at a desk in an office

Flexible work refers to working arrangements that provide employees with more control over when, where, and how they work. This can include options such as:

  • Remote work: working from a location outside of the office, typically from home.
  • Hybrid work: a combination of remote and office-based work, where employees may work from home some of the time and come into the office on other days.
  • Part-time work: working fewer hours than a traditional full-time schedule.
  • Flexible hours: having the ability to start and finish work at times that suit the employee's individual needs, rather than adhering to a set schedule.
  • Job sharing: two or more employees sharing a full-time position and working part-time hours.

Flexible work arrangements can benefit both employees and employers. For employees, flexible work can provide a better work-life balance, improved well-being, and increased job satisfaction. 

For employers, flexible work can improve employee retention and recruitment, increase productivity, and reduce absenteeism and turnover.

flexible work in new zealand - here to stay

The Workmonitor research reveals 57.3% of New Zealand workers agree that their current job provides them with the flexibility to control when they work, compared to 56.5% globally. Furthermore, 50.9% of workers in New Zealand agree that their job provides them with flexibility in terms of location, which is on a par with the global figure (50.7%). The demand for flexibility has not slowed with 25.9% of Kiwi workers reporting an increase in flexibility in terms of working hours in the last six months, while 26.8% reported an increase in flexibility in terms of location. This highlights the significant demand for flexible working arrangements, as more and more workers look to balance their professional and personal lives.

The research highlights the importance of work-life balance for employees. Despite the uncertainty of the macroeconomic landscape, workers still feel empowered to prioritise their work-life balance. The Workmonitor research shows that 59.9% of Kiwi employees wouldn’t accept a job if they thought it would negatively impact their work-life balance. Furthermore, 49.2% of New Zealand employees would quit a job if it was preventing them from enjoying their life, compared to 47.6% globally. This demonstrates that employees are placing a higher value on their wellbeing, and employers should take note of this. 

The statistics indicate that  employers are responding to this ongoing demand for more flexibility. And if all this talk of flexibility is making leaders feel nervous, it’s important not to fall into the ‘productivity paranoia’ trap. The idea of "productivity paranoia" refers to a leader’s fears that their employees will not be as productive when working from home or working flexibly. A study by Harvard Business Review found that remote workers completed an extra day's worth of work each week compared to those working in an office, and a separate study by Airtasker showed that remote workers were not only more productive but also worked more hours, took fewer breaks and sick days, and had higher job satisfaction than office-based employees. 

Overall, these findings suggest that flexible working can lead to increased productivity and job satisfaction for employees.

Woman working on her laptop
Woman working on her laptop

flexible work and inclusion

Flexible work arrangements can be a key tool for promoting inclusion in the workplace. Remote work removes barriers such as geography and accessibility, making it easier for people with disabilities, caregiving responsibilities, and other life circumstances that can make it difficult to work in a traditional office setting to participate in the workforce. Additionally, remote work can also open up opportunities for people living in underrepresented or marginalised communities, who may not have easy access to traditional office locations.

However, it's important to note that just offering flexible work arrangements is not enough to ensure inclusion. It should be accompanied by other initiatives and policies such as training programs to promote cultural competence, flexible hours, parental leave, and accommodations for people with disabilities..

the impact of flexible work on workplace culture

Flexible work arrangements can have both positive and negative impacts on workplace culture. On the positive side, flexible work can lead to increased employee satisfaction and productivity, as it can provide employees with more control over their work-life balance and the ability to work in a way that suits their individual needs and preferences. This can also lead to a more diverse and inclusive workforce, as remote work can remove barriers such as geography and accessibility. Additionally, flexible work can promote a culture of trust and autonomy, where employees are given more responsibility and decision-making power over their own work.

On the not-so-positive side, flexible work can lead to feelings of isolation and disconnection among remote workers, as they may not have the same level of face-to-face interaction with their colleagues as they would in an office setting. Additionally, flexible work can lead to a blurring of boundaries between work and personal time, which can be detrimental to employees' well-being. Furthermore, if not implemented correctly, remote work can lead to lack of communication and collaboration among team members, creating a less cohesive work environment.

To promote a good workplace culture, companies should have clear guidelines and expectations for communication and collaboration among remote teams, and they should also provide opportunities for remote workers to connect with their colleagues and participate in team building activities. Additionally, it is important for companies to promote a culture of trust and flexibility, where employees are encouraged to take advantage of flexible work options, but also feel comfortable discussing any issues or concerns they may have.

Flexible work arrangements have become increasingly important in today's rapidly changing business environment. Flexible work can have many benefits for both employees and employers but it is not without its challenges. 

For people leaders, it's important to recognise the trend towards flexible work and to actively implement policies and practices that support it. This includes providing clear guidelines and expectations for communication and collaboration, promoting a culture of trust and flexibility, and providing opportunities for remote workers to connect with their colleagues and participate in team building activities. 

Overall, flexible work can be a powerful tool for promoting inclusion, employee satisfaction, and productivity, but it's important to approach it with care and consideration for its potential impacts on workplace culture.

To learn more about Randstad’s Workmonitor research, visit our dedicated Workmonitor page on our website here.

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