If the two years of the pandemic have taught us anything, they have shown that many of us can do our jobs remotely and on a schedule consistent with our responsibilities and lifestyles. Now that a number of companies are requiring their employees to return to the office, they should realize that happy workers are productive workers and it would be wise to listen to feedback from their employees. This could particularly benefit single parents, who can save a lot of money on childcare and spend more time with their children if they have the flexibility to choose not only where they work, but also their working hours. .
Flexitime has long been a buzzword in human resources, but it’s increasingly becoming a reality for workers who demand more options when possible. Polls from Morning Consult and Owl Labs found that 30-40% of American workers would consider quitting if their employers forced them to return to the office full-time. Increasingly, workers are going a step further and also asking to work on their own schedule instead of a traditional 8 to 5 schedule.
For many, especially single parents, being able to work remotely and during the hours that best suit them would give them more time to be with their children at home and allow them to attend their child’s extracurricular activities. and spend less on childcare and fuel costs. These benefits would make them happier and more productive employees.
Many companies have discovered how a flexible working situation also helps them: it allows them to reduce the size of office space and save money on rent and utilities.
Of course, there are some jobs that by their nature do not allow for remote work or flexible hours. In my profession, most independent attorneys cannot take depositions or plead remotely with maximum efficiency. Obviously, those in service jobs like restaurant servers need to be present at their place of work. The same is true for medical workers, factory workers and several other professions. However, increasingly, our economy is made up of jobs that can be done remotely and at times that are best for the employee.
Adaptations to the pandemic have proven that many jobs can be done remotely – and many workers seem to have gotten used to it. Among Americans whose jobs can be done remotely, 59% say they still work from home a lot or all the time, according to a Pew Research Center survey released in February.
And for parents working with children under 18, Pew found a third cited lack of childcare as a reason for continuing to work from home.
In terms of productivity, 44% say that working remotely has made it easier for them to work and meet deadlines.
It seems to make many employees happier – and it translates to greater productivity. A report published last year by Forbes cited a study by Oxford University’s Said Business School which found that happy workers were 13% more productive.
So the question I would ask many companies is, what could your company do if every team member was 13% more productive without having to pay them a penny more?
The bottom line is that the past two years have changed the workplace for good – and it may indeed be for the better. These changes will not work for all employers and employees. But employees should express their concerns and preferences. In turn, companies that listen to their employees’ desires and allow for flexibility, in terms of where and when employees work, will be the ones to benefit the most.
Jeffery Leving is Founder and President of The Law Offices of Jeffery Leving. He is the author of ‘Fathers’ Rights’, ‘Divorce Wars’ and ‘How to be a Good Divorced Dad’. ©2022 Chicago Tribune. Distributed by content agency Tribune.