When navigating the ever-evolving modern workplace, many companies are thinking about the future of the office and flexible working models. Although the benefits of in-person collaboration and culture-building are undeniable, flexibility and work-life balance are still top considerations for talent. Alexandra Delaney, Hudson RPO’s Director of Client Solutions in the Americas region, delves deeper into the subject.
“The push for a return to the office and more structured ways of working is understandable. Leaders often see the office as a hub of creativity, a place where ideas are born from spontaneous conversations and shared experiences”, says Alexandra. “However, this perspective may inadvertently overlook the diverse needs of employees as well as potential talent that lies beyond the geographical boundaries of the office.”
A great example of this is the ‘Returning for Good’ report by Unispace, that finds that 72% of companies surveyed from across 14 different countries now say they have mandated office returns. Interestingly, almost half of those who mandated a return to the office now report a higher level of employee attrition, and 29 per cent are struggling to attract the talent they need.
Research amongst the Hudson RPO talent experts in our APAC region, has concluded similar findings. Notably, our talent experts noted a trade-off in quality candidates when mandating a return to the office that didn’t reflect an industry requirement or added value to employees.
Alexandra has personally experienced firsthand the importance of a flexible work model: “When my husband was diagnosed with cancer, I became his primary caregiver. It was a challenging time, filled with doctor’s appointments, treatments, and the emotional toll that such a diagnosis brings. I was fortunate to work for an employer who understood my personal needs and didn’t add to my stress by requiring me to come into the office during his treatment and recovery.”
“Without this flexibility, my situation could have been drastically different. The added pressure of commuting, managing my workload, and maintaining a presence at work, all while caring for my husband, would have been overwhelming. Having the flexibility to focus on both aspects of my personal and professional life while maintaining a sense of privacy was incredibly helpful and provided me the opportunity to stay in a role I love and provide the care my husband needed during a critical time.”
Flexibility fueling performance
Alexandra believes the assumption that employees prefer to work from home out of laziness or a desire to shirk responsibilities is a misconception. “There are countless circumstances, some as extreme as mine and others less so, that necessitate the option to work from home. It’s not always about wanting to escape the office environment, but rather about needing the flexibility to manage personal circumstances while still contributing professionally.”
Research by Gartner earlier this year on radical flexibility explored the concept of giving employees flexibility not just when and where they work, but also with whom, on what and how much. According to their research, flexibility boosts the percentage of employees defined as high performers increases by 40 per cent while drastically reducing burn-out risk.
“In my experience, I’ve found that I am more productive working from home,” Alexandra says. “The elimination of commute time and the flexibility to create a personalized work environment, significantly increased my productivity. Despite not being physically present in the office, I’ve maintained excellent relationships with my coworkers, and my work-life balance and mental health have improved significantly.”
Is the way you shape work attractive to talent?
For companies considering a change to work arrangements, it’s crucial to consider the diverse needs of employees and the potential benefits of a flexible model. By doing so, they can attract and retain top talent, build trust, and create a supportive environment that values the well-being of their employees. Do you want to learn more about how the way you build work shapes your talent attraction and retention, talk to one of our talent experts today.