Employees and businesses have tasted the benefits of flexible work environments and want more. In adopting these new flexible work arrangements, they aim to stay ahead of competitors by hiring new talent and boosting their productivity.
Importance of flexible work arrangements
According to Mercer’s recently published Canada Flexible Working Policies & Practices Survey, 75% of Canadian companies have already implemented or announced a flexible work approach. Only 6% of businesses have no intention of building a flexible work environment. These results show that adopting flex work isn’t a question of whether it’s essential but of how it fits into the current business structure.
75% of Canadian companies have already implemented or announced a flexible work approach.
Flex work offers multiple benefits for a company, which is why it’s one of the top HR priorities for 2023. Over the past year, Canadian businesses have seen better productivity, collaboration, and employee engagement. Most surprisingly, 41% of businesses also saw a healthier culture and 34% saw better innovation.
When businesses adopt flexible work arrangements, they see more motivated employees willing to work longer hours. There are also fewer office distractions. Companies can cut costs with less office space.
Beyond remote and hybrid work
When you hear “flex work,” you might automatically think of remote or hybrid work structures. However, flex work encompasses more areas than just where you work. It also includes the who, when, what, and how of flexible work arrangements.
For example, with job sharing, employees have the flexibility of a part-time schedule and the company has a filled full-time position. By offering this employment option, employees can create their own schedules without impacting business productivity.
When asked what work arrangements are included in their approach to flex working, just under a quarter of businesses surveyed indicated that they have part-time remote working, otherwise known as hybrid work. Interestingly, 18% have a flex-time format in which workers can choose their start and end times and a few indicated they have variable shift lengths or shift-sharing. Perhaps as employers continue to look for the right solutions, usage of different flex options will increase.
Refining hybrid work
With hybrid work being prevalent among employers’ flex working programs, it’s understandable that they are continuing to refine how they define and manage the offering. Who defines the hybrid schedule is a question that needs to be answered when an organization offers hybrid working to employees. Of course, this option is more appealing to employees when they have control over when they need to be in the office. Determining in-office schedules seems to be managed in a variety of ways, including:
- 31% of employers give the employees full autonomy over when they are in the office
- 30% of organizations have managers determine the in-office days for their teams
- 12% of employers dictate which days employees must be in the office
In 2022, as companies began to implement longer term flex working programs, 38% of Canadian companies issued mandates for employees to return to the office, while 34% defined expectations for in-office work but didn’t require a return to the office. However, a surprising 43% of companies don’t plan to monitor compliance at an organizational level but will rely on managers to monitor in-office workers.
A key part of implementing a hybrid work program is incentivizing employees to return to the office. Companies are finding creative ways to attract talent to work in the office, benefiting both the company and the employee. The vast majority (60%) say they offer more flexible working hours so employees can build schedules around commute and traffic. Another staggering 63% offer relaxed dress codes. Other tactics for encouraging in-office work include:
- Free parking
- Free meals
- Childcare assistance
- Premium pay
- Redesigned office space
- Better office technology
Of these options, those taken advantage of most by employees are the premium pay and relaxed dress code.
Working from anywhere
Not everyone needs to return to the office if the current remote arrangements work well for productivity. Of the almost 200 companies participating in our survey, however, few (16%) include full-time remote work as part of their flex program. Hybrid work is the more popular (24%) option, although many companies offer multiple options.
As the pandemic progressed in 2020 and we were still all at home, talk turned to whether or not employees could work from anywhere. Many envisioned employees relocating to ex-pat friendly South American countries and working from the beach. But, what would that involve? Talk turned to work visas, with some countries encouraging people to come and give it a try. However, did this actually become reality? It doesn’t look like it. Even at companies that support full-time remote workers, 48% indicated they still have geographic restrictions limiting where remote workers can live.
Considerations for your flex working program
Your flex work arrangement should align with your talent strategy and add value to your total rewards package. For the best results in today’s labor market, companies should offer these arrangements as a standard option rather than as special accommodation for a select few.
Millennials are especially eager to join companies that offer flex work, with 73% saying they would switch jobs for more flexibility. Flexible work arrangements also address gender discrepancies, as parents can build schedules around childcare so both parents can be in the workforce.
Consider these factors when building your flex work arrangement:
- Identify the jobs that can be flexible without hurting productivity
- Ensure all employees feel part of the team, regardless of whether they’re on-site or telecommuting
- Find a way to measure employee satisfaction and preferences so that the arrangement aligns with employee needs
- Build a flexible long-term plan that can change with ongoing employee needs and trends
- Assess how all areas of the company can better support flex work
Looking for more information on designing a flex work option that’s right for your organization?
For more information on flex work in Canada, check out the complete survey.
Contact us for more information on our survey data and results at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-286-5301