Moving Workforce Forward Series: Adapting to Employees’ Flexibility Demands

By The Intersect Group

Adapting to Employees’ Flexibility Demands

As the U.S. economy continues to slowly make its way to a fully post-COVID status, it’s been almost impossible not to notice that employees have demands and they’re not leery of vocalizing them.

A recent article called this state of affairs one in which workers are gaining leverage over employers and demanding not only more money but also more flexibility.

Flexibility is just as important to employees as their pay rates

Many of us have taken a hard look at our work lives during the pandemic and decided a little change might be good!

Where we work is one of those changes.

A PwC survey from Spring 2021 found about 25 percent of the 1,500 respondents (primarily people who had been working remotely during the pandemic) said they were “considering or planning to move more than 50 miles away from a core office location.”

Even 8 percent of non-remote workers (essential workers) said they were thinking of moving (they are part of the 25 percent cited above).

Yet about half of employees still want to come into an office, at least part-time

A February Gallup poll found that about 56 percent of respondents wanted to work in an office a few days a week.

Younger people living in large cities tended to be the ones who wanted on-site work the most (for networking and professional experience opportunities).

So, while remote work will probably continue to be a core requirement for candidates, it’s changed from what employers thought employees wanted – remote work all the time – to more of a hybrid of on-site/remote work. If you’re looking to hire and retain knowledge workers, some semblance of remote work will likely continue to be one of their core expectations.

Flexibility means different things to different employees

Taking PwC’s findings into account, it appears that companies will have to become even more flexible in their offerings.

As just one example: the same remote-work guidelines may not work for everyone. A top – and hard to replace – employee may have already moved far from the home office. You don’t want to lose her, so a hard-core policy of in-office work a couple of days a week won’t work.

Adaptation ideas to help you meet employees’ demand for flexibility (as they define it)

It may be time to acknowledge it: companies may have to make more of an effort to be accommodating (at least a bit) and give employees what they want in order to attract and retain great talent. The current labor shortage no doubt will last until at least early 2022, but could – gulp! – continue for years due to the shrinking number of working-age people in the population.

With that in mind, here are two tips to help you adapt to team members’ need for flexibility regarding remote/on-site work:

  1. You’re still the employer: set expectations from the start.

You can provide what your employees want, and you can set expectations. You’re going to need to comply with state and federal tax laws, regardless, so let all employees know what in-person attendance norms you expect and when remote employees – no matter where they may be working – will have to come into the office.

  1. If you do expect remote workers who live far away to come into the office at least (for example) once a quarter, decide if you might offer travel reimbursement.

If you do decide to offer reimbursement, say so. Be clear on how much (what percentage/actual amount).

As mentioned above, knowledge workers are hard to find right now. The Intersect Group can help.

We source and recruit highly skilled finance/accounting and IT professionals every day. We have a hefty talent pipeline already, and we’d love to place some of the terrific people we’ve found in your contract, contract-to-hire, and direct-hire roles.

Contact us today to learn more.