Employee demand for flexible working

WatchingWith the growth of the Sri Lankan economy, companies across all industries are hiring a greater number of millennials as they continue to expand their operations. millennials are generally known to be more tech-savvy and open to change in the office environment. In an increasingly competitive and fast-paced business environment, these millennials are well aware of the importance of the role played by flexible working to attain a better work-life balance in their jobs, in order to avoid burnout and have long, successful careers.

However, latest research has shown that it is not just the millennials asking for more flexible working to help them juggle work and personal needs. Across all age groups, more and more employees are requesting flexible working arrangements from their employers. The emphasis they place on flexible working is so strong that a global survey by Unify in 2014 found that 43% of workers would choose the option of flexible working over a pay rise.

Flexible working brings numerous benefits to the employees. They get the chance to avoid lengthy and often stressful commutes, giving them more time to spend with their loved ones or doing what they love. This means that the employee is in a better state of mind when they are at work. This translates into benefits to the businesses as statistics show that workers are more efficient, productive, motivated and empowered when they are able to work flexibly, whilst retention rates improve and sick days decrease.

From a more practical standpoint, reducing unused or underused office space can help businesses avoid long and expensive lease and free up capital for investment in growth.
Specifically, latest research by Regus, the global workplace provider, shows that 81% of respondents think that money saved on expensive leases and under-occupied office space should be invested in growth initiatives and in creating more jobs.

As a result, increasing flexible working arrangements could even contribute to help control or even reduce youth unemployment in Sri Lanka by lowering the cost of desk space.

While freeing up business’ capital to invest in growth and employment is a key objective in any economy that wants to increase GDP, national governments have the opportunity to contribute to help flexible working becoming the norm. The Regus research also found out that business people believe that governments should be promoting flexible working by offering businesses various tax and non-tax incentives and that the availability of flexible working options should be communicated more effectively.

The reasons national governments should promote flexible working are therefore closely linked to economic growth and job creation. The research further showed that one under-represented group of workers are women with only 57% in employment across the OECD and yet one report suggests that raising female employment to the same level as that of men male levels could increase GDP by as much as 34% in some countries.

Women workers

The main obstacle is the struggle many women workers face in trying to balance their family life with their professional lives. As a result, far too many skilled and professional women leave the workforce after starting a family. However, flexible working is seen by a large majority (83%) as a solution to help them remain in work longer, thereby contributing positively to the business and the country’s economy.

The benefits of flexible working go beyond millennials and working mothers. Older workers or people with care responsibilities can also benefit from the opportunity to work closer to home. With the rise of retirement ages, the proportion of those needing to remain in employment is also on the increase. However, older workers often have other responsibilities such as caring for loved ones, or have health issues, which mean that they cannot afford lengthy commutes away from home.

In such scenarios, flexible working is a welcome change that helps them extend their careers while meeting their responsibilities. In fact, 88% of respondents confirmed that flexible working is vital to keeping carers in employment so they can better juggle the demands of their family and professional life and 84% say it can help workers stay in employment after retirement.

While flexible working clearly benefits a number of parties, businesses have to keep in mind that they need to provide flexible workers with a professional and fully-functional environment to work from so that they can thrive, concentrate and reach maximum productivity. A small investment in offering workers access to fully-equipped, professional workspaces closer to their home could help firms achieve this easily.

Founded in Brussels, Belgium, in 1989, Regus is the global workplace provider based in Luxembourg and listed on the London Stock Exchange. Regus’ network of more than 2,300 business centres in 850 cities and 106 countries provides convenient, high-quality, fully serviced spaces for people to work, whether for a few minutes or a few years. Companies like Google, Toshiba and GlaxoSmithKline choose Regus so that they can work flexibly and make their businesses more successful. Regus has opened wherever its 2.1 million members want support – city centres, suburban districts, shopping centres and retail outlets, railway stations, motorway service stations and even community centres. (Ceylon Today)

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