With the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic now rearing its head, the uncertainty overwork and health conditions show no signs of disappearing. As a result, the measures taken to keep workplaces safe are set to continue, not least the requirement to work from home. But even post COVID-19, many believe that adopting a flexible work model is the best way forward for everyone.
Much has been made of the necessity to stay away from workplaces if at all possible, which is why so many businesses have moved their teams to Zoom rooms and other forms of online communication. Where a presence is necessary, the workplace etiquette has been altered, ensuring regular cleaning, disinfecting, physical distancing and careful alertness to symptoms.
However, while this ‘new reality’ has mainly been introduced in response to the need to battle the pandemic, the advantages that have emerged have convinced some to continue in much the same vein – even after the threat posed by novel coronavirus has subsided.
In a Mercer survey, 83% of participating employees in the US confirmed their employers were considering implementing flexible work on a greater scale than they did prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While in the past there may have been a reluctance to change to remote and flexible work models, these companies have been forced to adopt them under the current circumstances. It seems clear that they have seen the more far-reaching benefits, and eye to build on that.
But is flexible work really the best option for everyone – employees as well as employers? And is it really a long-term answer?
Benefits Of A Flexible Work Model
- Lower Stress Levels
- Better Mental Health
- Improves The Work-Health Balance
- Flexible Work Model Now The Employees’ Choice
- Higher Productivity, Greater Commitment
The impact of COVID-19 on businesses is not just economic – it has also strained mental health. In one survey conducted by the Department of Work and Employment Studies at the Kemmy Business School, University of Limerick, a significant majority (60%) of employees in Ireland said they felt more stressed and burned out since the start of the pandemic. It also revealed a gender gap, with 45% of men and 67% of women reporting increased levels of stress.
However, employees who have flexible work arrangements have better access to the emotional support needed to help deal with stress and mental health issues. In a survey carried out by FlexJobs, in partnership with Mental Health America (MHA), 54% of respondents said they have the support and 57% that they had the mechanism to change what was stressful about their work.
FlexJobs’ survey also revealed that two-thirds (66%) of those who work without flexible work options said their workplace did not encourage open conversations about either burnout or mental health.
Not only that, but workers without flexible options are estimated to be almost twice as likely to have poor or very poor mental health – with 27% assessing their mental health in either category compared to 17% of those who have access to a flexible work model.
At a time when health is to the fore in everyone’s minds, a key advantage to adopting the flexible work model is the benefits to employee wellbeing. According to the FlexJobs report, some 48% of workers with flexible working arrangements said their work-life balance is excellent or very good. This is compared to 36% of workers without flexible working options.
When less than 2% of respondents say they would prefer to return to work in their office full-time, it reveals a very telling fact. There is little doubt that remote work is the preferred working option. In fact, the vast majority, 66%, admitted they preferred to work from home on a full-time basis after the COVID-19 pandemic is over, and the remaining 33% would be happy with a blend of both.
According to a report from KPMG, 70% of US managers and team workers have said they are collaborating better since adapting to flexible work arrangements. Also, 54% have said their productivity has increased and 64% that the quality of their work has increased.
However, a staggering 94% have stated they now feel more committed to their employers since the start of the COVID-19 crisis.
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