What’s happening in the evolving US job market right now? We have data for you on the top benefits of remote work and flexible schedules for workers in a job right now and how that’s changed since 2021.
Top 3 takeaways
- Work-life integration is growing as a major benefit of flexwork – up to 52.8% and 66.7% from 39.7% and 55.8% for flexible location and flexible schedules respectively
- Saving time and money increasing as a benefit to 45.8% from 33.5%
- Productivity another bonus on the rise, to 48.6% from 39.4%
Both the first Great Discontent survey from 2021 and this one in 2023 bring pretty clear insights: workers aren’t only readily adapting to remote work and flexible schedules, but also recognizing the unique advantages that these have over on-location and set schedules.
What we’ve learned now is that, in the two years of experience in these setups between the two surveys, some benefits are rising to the surface and others have sunken to the depths.
The growing benefits of remote work
What remains at the top in terms of benefits associated with remote work is the ability to integrate personal and professional priorities – described to us as “work-life integration” by one-time SmartBug Media CEO Ryan Malone in 2020. In this case, more than half of all US workers (52.8%) in the new survey cited that as a major benefit of remote work – up 13.1 points from 39.7% in 2021.
Another huge benefit is how much time workers get back in the day if they’re working remotely. For one, they don’t have to commute – and that’s also a fast-growing benefit of WFH, with 45.8% of workers calling that a major perk now compared with 33.5% in 2021.
The growing benefits of flexible schedules
Workers are also finding benefits in not being required to adhere to the traditional 9-to-5 (or 7-to-3, or 11-to-7, or what have you) grind. The ability to balance personal and professional priorities again takes center stage for workers with flexible schedules, with 66.7% calling that a major benefit in 2023 compared with 55.8% in 2021.
We know that different people are more productive at different times of the day. Some are night owls, others are early risers, and some are in between. In that mindset, increased work performance is also growing as a benefit of flexible schedules, with 48.6% of workers citing that in 2023, up from 39.4% in 2021.
Overall, it’s simply easier – if someone needs to skip out for a longer lunch or catch a doctor’s appointment, or pick up their kids from school, they’re able to do so and balance out their time commitment by investing a couple extra hours in the evening or earlier in the day.
Overall, these shifts reveal a matured understanding of the advantages of remote and flexible work. Some benefits are becoming clearer over time and with experience. Plus, as workers have become more adept at these arrangements, the benefits have expanded beyond just health and safety considerations to encompass efficiency, flexibility, work-life balance, and financial gains.
Above all, the increased autonomy that comes with flexwork appear to benefit both the employee and the employer (in the resulting productivity) – and that’s worth noting.
What can you do?
1. Emphasize work-life integration policies
With the increased emphasis on the integration of personal and professional priorities, it’s clear that maintaining work-life balance is more important than ever for employees.
Employers need to develop and promote policies that respect and encourage this balance, such as promoting “disconnect time” or offering support for family needs.
2. Reevaluate cost and time-saving measures
The increase in recognition of cost and time-saving benefits indicates the need for companies to consider how they can facilitate these advantages further.
Employers could consider allowances for home-office setup, stipends for utilities, or even “no meeting” days to maximize efficiency.
3. Promote autonomy and flexibility
Given the positive impact of flexible schedules on productivity, it is crucial for employers to promote work autonomy. This could include encouraging employees to work when they feel most productive or allowing flexibility in daily work schedules.
Businesses must continue to evolve their practices and policies to align with these changing preferences and needs of their employees.
Frequently asked questions
- What are the notable growing benefits of remote work from 2021 to 2023?
- Work-life integration is highlighted, increasing to 52.8% from 39.7%, and the aspect of saving time and money rose to 45.8% from 33.5%.
- How has the perception of flexible schedules changed?
- They are increasingly seen as beneficial for balancing personal and professional priorities, rising to 66.7% from 55.8%, and enhancing productivity, increasing to 48.6% from 39.4%.
- Are these benefits indicative of temporary trends or long-term shifts in work culture?
- The consistent rise indicates a long-term shift in understanding and prioritizing the multifaceted benefits of flexwork.
- How should employers adapt to these growing trends?
- Employers should emphasize work-life integration, reevaluate measures for time and cost savings, and promote autonomy and flexibility in work schedules.
- Has the pandemic played a role in these changing perceptions?
- While initial flexwork adoption was largely due to the pandemic, the enduring nature of these benefits suggests a fundamental shift in work preferences beyond health considerations.