Building a flexible workforce

With more and more companies turning to consultant, intermittent, and seasonal workers, the global workforce is demanding increasing flexibility. Our survey shows that employees are looking for less-rigid schedules and work locations. And while these benefits are not ranked as highly as cash-based rewards (like competitive compensation, bonuses, and retirement plans), 44% of employees say a flexible work location is very important to their job satisfaction.

But managing a flexible workforce comes with a host of operational, training, and technology challenges—and there may be downsides for workers, too. In response to a recent report from the Inspector General of the US Postal Service, the American Postal Workers Union pointed out that these measures threaten stability and allow organizations to schedule workers according to demand.

To successfully build a flexible workforce, companies must take measures to make sure that contract workers are not only leading to business success for the organization, but also furthering the goals of its employees.

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The workforce of the future will be increasingly flexible

When we surveyed over 2,700 executives around the world, we found that 83% are increasingly using consultants, intermittent employees, or contingent workers. The shift from hiring traditional full-time employees to a more flexible workforce demands major changes to the way companies think about compensation and benefits, training, and organizational culture.

Blog Sept 17

Companies are already responding to the changing workforce, but given the magnitude of this trend and the increased regulatory scrutiny that is likely to follow, they may not be doing enough.

You can find more on the changing nature of work in our research report. If you haven’t checked out our research yet, you can find out more by visiting our landing page.

Where’s the love for flexible work hours?

Despite the benefits flexible work schedules offer— among them greater productivity, efficiency, and satisfaction among employees—long-held perceptions of what a workday should be hold fast at many companies.

A recent study conducted by sociologists at the Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College found that just one-fifth of companies offer flexible options to most of their employees.

One issue: Employees who take advantage of flexible schedules are not always treated the same as those who follow a more traditional work schedule.

For example, Quartz reports on a new study from The University of Washington that found managers perceive employees who start their days early as more disciplined, regardless of other performance indicators or how late in the evening the employee worked.

No matter how well flextime works, then, reaping its benefits requires a shift in organizational culture.

On telecommuting

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Once a work experience is designed, it must be communicated and inculcated. And this doesn’t mean a short course or an annual video lecture with a few inane questions to see if you still get it–it means a constant, ongoing endeavor to understand how people are working, how work conditions are affecting results and what needs to change to improve performance, or keep it at desirable levels. Workers and managers need to develop professionally together, not apart, because telecommuting is a feedback loop, not a linear activity.  –Daniel Rasmus

After enjoying dinner in New York with scenario planner Daniel Rasmus last night, we revisited his Fast Company post about managing telecommuters – and workers in general.