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Flexible working vs higher salary

Michael Carter
16/07/18

What’s most important to employees in 2018? Flexible working or a larger pay packet? And what do we mean by flexible working? Is there more to the concept than thinking outside the traditional nine to five?

A survey by software company Unity suggested that 43% of workers would prefer flexible working hours to a pay rise and that a third of those questioned indicated they’d take a job with lower pay if it meant they had more freedom to choose their hours. For management to respond to this trend effectively, line managers need to be on top of individual employees’ hours worked, making sure that tasks were still being achieved in expected timeframes and that time away from the office was being used for work. This is a tough ask for managers, as they have to demonstrate trust in their employees, but be tough enough not to be taken for a ride.

Increased flexibility can be a real asset to a company, as employees will enjoy the freedom of flexibility and if they are happy, they are more likely to commit to the company long term and resist temptation from elsewhere.

But flexibility isn’t just about hours worked. For example, if you spend your first half hour at work reading an industry magazine or newsletter in order to keep up-to-date with relevant information, should the same consideration be given to those who get their information from scrolling through Twitter or LinkedIn reading updates from prominent figures in their sector? More people, particularly younger staffers, expect to be able to access work-relevant social media in the office.

Working remotely is also increasingly common, using company computers or devices in your own home. Over a third of the clients I worked with in May/June were exclusively remote positions and of the remaining ones, half of them were open to a few days working-from-home per week. While this is an effective solution for emergency childcare concerns (a benefit to so many employees), this practice also allows for desk-sharing in the office, cutting costs as more than one person uses the same workspace, potentially bringing down facilities management costs.

As technology facilitates remote working and file-sharing (a concept that can actually enhance teamwork), perhaps the question will no longer be “flexibility vs pay”. As non-traditional ways of working become the norm, future workforces may expect flexibility and appropriate remuneration. And perhaps the future is hybrid: beginning the day in the office but finishing from home, swapping workspace with colleagues and ensuring face-to-face contact as well as the productivity that working from home can bring.

Read our related blog: Is remote working beneficial for business?



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