Since the world underwent a rapid, non-negotiable exercise in flexible working, there's been extensive research into the advantages it can bring.
Countless blogs, articles and posts have been published showing how remote working has made businesses and their employees more productive, cost effective, autonomous, and environmentally friendly.
But there are a number of lesser-known benefits of remote and flexible working practices that have also made themselves apparent.
Read on to learn the 6 most important hidden advantages of flexible working.
1. Staff attend more meetings
With in-person meetings replaced by videoconferences and virtual interactions in 2020, the number of meetings attended by workers rose by 13.5%.
Meetings also saw a decrease of 20.1% in average duration, suggesting using Zoom, Teams, and Google Meet might in fact be more efficient and focused than traditional in-office meetings.[i]
2. Employees feel more trusted
In a survey recorded in 2019, 82% of respondents agreed that working remotely would make them feel more trusted at work.
When followed up and asked to clarify that they felt more trusted in 2020, more than three quarters of these same respondents replied “YES”.[ii]
3. 'Office politics' is less harmful
Findings from research published in Sage Journals suggests that the use of…
1. 'Hard influence' tactics
2. 'Political actions'
are less present among virtual teams than their in-office counterparts[iii].
Why this matters...
A third of UK workers previously dreaded going into work
Before the pandemic made remote working a largely accepted norm, 33% of UK workers cited office politics as a major contributing factor to feelings of unhappiness in the workplace, and that it made them dread going to work[iv].
As testament to this, in 2020, 61% of respondents in a 2020 survey listed ‘avoiding the office drama’ as the top reason to work from home[v].
4. Stress and absenteeism is reduced
Before COVID-19, stress accounted for nearly half of all working days lost[vi].
In the Owl Lab State of Remote Work report, 72% of all survey respondents agreed that the ability to work remotely would make them less stressed.
The UK sickness absence rate fell to 1.8% in 2020, representing the lowest recorded absence level since 1995[vii].
5. Employers can benefit from more diversity
Flexible and remote working practices allow employers to reduce bias, widen their networks, and generally provide better access and support for a broader, more diverse pool of talent to recruit from.
Using flexible working practices to embrace diversity carries a number of potent business benefits:-
- Teams that are focused on diversity and inclusion tend to deliver the highest levels of engagement[viii].
- Organisations with more diverse management achieve 19% higher revenues through innovation[ix].
- Diverse teams solve problems faster than teams of cognitively similar people[x].
6. It demands better communications systems
ISDN phone lines are set to be switched off completely in the year 2025. In fact, sales of ISDN services have already been halted in some regions of the UK.
In order to facilitate flexible working and fully reap the benefits it has to offer, organisations must invest in achieving Voice over Internet Protocol (or VoIP) capabilities, such as cloud telephony.
The huge surge in adoption of internet-based voice services and unified communications over the initial waves of lockdown show how integral leading comms systems are to flexible working:-
69% of businesses now use an internet-based voice service[xi]
the cloud telephony market has been projected to grow by an additional 17.8% over 2021, having grown by 9% in 2020[xii].
So what actual insight can we take away from these facts, figures and findings?
As the world settles into its next norm and ‘hybrid working models’ become the prevailing topic of discussion, these points serve to remind us of some of the underlying issues that can grow within organisations in the absence of flexible approaches to working.
A lack of inclusion, stress, sickness, feeling less trusted or engaged, toxic office dynamics, and of course, lagging behind the curve of technological progress - all of these factors can be exacerbated by working dynamics that are too rigid, or managerial judgments that don’t evolve as the world does.
Businesses that fail to see this - or don’t go to the necessary lengths to prevent it - run the risk of becoming extinct.
By moving on from rigid working models and structures of the past and embracing more flexible working practices, employers can …
- Boost meeting attendance, engagement, and efficiency
- Help their staff feel more trusted
- Mitigate office politics and the harm it can cause
- Reduce stress and absenteeism
- Take your diversity and inclusion practices further, and reap their business benefits
- Enhance their communications infrastructure, moving ahead of the curve of technological progress
Why not check out our complete guide to managing remote teams?