Issue #42
#42 - Time to get bendy : a look at flexibility at work
November 04, 2022

What's up, everybody?

One of the core questions this newsletter grapples with is: “How is work changing, and how how do we best respond to that change?”.

This week then, our 3 stories look at flexibility:

  • The flexibility employees demand at work -- and how productive flexible work is proving to be.
  • What this demand for flexibility requires of leaders (hint: it's not more of the same).
  • What this demand means for organizations, and the way they hire.

It turns out that no matter the level -- individual employee, leader, or organization -- the requirement is the same: to adapt, or risk getting left behind.

Thanks for reading, and have a great week!

Aki + Usman


#Flexibility #Productivity

Story #1 here, and story #2, below, come from the Future Forum, “a consortium focused on building a way of working that is flexible, inclusive, and connected”. And from the Forum’s recent survey of 10,766 knowledge workers.

The first finding of the survey wasn’t surprising, per se: employees want flexibility over where they work, and over their schedule. What did surprise, though, were the staggering percentages: 80% and 94% of all workers surveyed wanted location and schedule flexibility, respectively. The signal feels loud, and unambiguous: workers are demanding more flexibility.

As well, one of the knocks on remote and hybrid work is that it is less productive than traditional work. But the survey found that “Workers who have full schedule flexibility report 29% higher productivity than workers with no ability to shift their schedule. They also report 53% greater ability to focus.”

Remote and hybrid workers were also more likely to feel connected to their manager and to their company’s values; they were 52% more likely to say their company culture had improved over the past two years; and they cited remote work policies as the #1 reason for that improvement.


#Flexibility #Leadershipshift

Echoing a trend we’ve highlighted in the past, the Future Forum’s survey showed a marked decline in manager wellbeing. Managers in August, 2022 reported 20% worse work-life balance, and 40% more work-related stress and anxiety than they did in August, 2021.

No doubt, the new employee norms and expectations -- including flexibility -- are creating new challenges for managers. But the survey and the quote above also make clear that the solve is not to to try and quash such big, seismic workforce trends. But instead to adapt, and embrace the flexibility that workers are demanding.


#OrgFlexibility #HiringShift

We found this stat 👆🏻 striking: according to McKinsey, 65 out of 100 workers who left their finance and insurance jobs between April, 2020 and April, 2022, left for a new industry.

Meantime, in issue #36, analyst Josh Bersin explained that “every industry is transforming into something else. More and more industries are being redefined. Retailers are becoming healthcare companies. Auto companies are becoming electric manufacturers. Chemical and Oil companies are moving into Hydrogen and Batteries.”

So when we combine the labor trends we see: more and more workers leaving one industry for another; more and more industries undergoing deep transformation; and resignation rates at all-time highs. All of which lend credibility to this insight from McKinsey:

"What we are seeing is a fundamental mismatch between companies’ demand for talent and the number of workers willing to supply it. As a result, there is now a structural gap in the labor supply because there simply aren’t enough traditional employees to fill all the openings. Even when employers successfully woo these workers from rivals, they are just reshuffling talent and contributing to wage escalation while failing to solve the underlying structural imbalance."

Thanks for reading. 🙏🏻

Work moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
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