Flexibility is the new work-life currency

A driving force behind the evolving work paradigm is the desire for a more flexible work life, a sentiment shared among employees across all markets and industries. Social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic transformed how we worked and made us realise that modifying work setups is possible with technology. Nearly half (48 percent) of the employees surveyed say they have enjoyed the increased flexibility at work since the pandemic started. Additionally, 52 percent consider flexible work hours or locations as key requirements and 25 percent say that flexibility would be their top priority if they were to start looking for a new job today.

Employee expectations and demands have progressed alongside emerging views on what work is and what is important in life due to the recent revelations about work and technology. Doing work rather than "going to work" is seen as the central concept of this new way of thinking about work life. What matters is the result, not the number of hours put in. Beyond just companies, employees focus more on their values, growth and what they gain from work. A more humane, flexible and autonomous work environment is the ideal scenario for employees. Around half of them embrace technology to facilitate flexibility through remote work.

Mobile connectivity is key in bridging the connectivity gap and providing flexible working for those without permanent connectivity infrastructures. When working from home, 69 percent of employees use cable or fibre broadband to access the internet, and 61 percent have access to 3G/4G/5G routers or can use their smartphone as a mobile hotspot. At the same time, 29 percent exclusively use cellular networks to access the internet in their homes. Complete reliance on mobile connectivity is particularly prominent in rural areas (less than 5,000 inhabitants), where 4 out of 10 use 3G/4G/5G routers and cellular networks to connect to the internet when working from home. Interestingly, a staggering quarter of urban dwellers in large metropolitan areas (over 5 million inhabitants) also exclusively use mobile networks.

Changes brought by remote work go beyond the rural/urban and geographic divides that have kept many employees confined to their offices and local areas. By enabling remote workers to either pursue a different lifestyle or return to their roots, the prospect of remote work may lead to a reverse brain drain that revitalises rural areas and economies. For some, it means being able to stay at their birthplace and still have a career, which benefits them as individuals, as well as society and the local economy.

Work-life balance and flexibility backlashes

Balancing work and personal life is essential for employees, and they consider flexibility key to achieving this. Increased flexibility in work provides more time for family and friends and can make pursuing personal interests and hobbies easier. One in four of the younger generations believe they will earn extra income through their hobbies.

Despite physical workplaces or businesses still being seen as conceptual hubs by the workforce, the rise of hybrid ways of working with a mix of in office, hybrid and remote workers suggests that hybrid working is here to stay. In our study, The dematerialisation path to profitability and sustainability (Ericsson Consumer & IndustryLab 2021), 43 percent believe there will be no offices in 2030 at all. Still, there is hope for the workplaces, albeit in a different form, as 41 percent of employees in this study believe that office and commercial spaces will be repurposed and modified as usage shifts due to the normalisation of remote work.

Increased flexibility and fluid work patterns risk blurring the lines separating work and personal life. On average, employees work 60 percent of the time in office and 40 percent out of-office. While half already feel better supported with flexible arrangements, 36 percent of employees struggle to find work life balance, and 33 percent worry that work stress levels may rise in the future due to hybrid work.

Work life balance issues also impact employee loyalty and inclination to stay; 30 percent of those considering switching employers mention work life conflict as their primary reason. This worrying trend comes at a time when 63 percent of decision makers predict that maintaining and retaining top talent will become more challenging. The solution to this problem may also lie in remote work.

Flexible loyalty with job switching


Today, switching jobs or careers to obtain better benefits, develop new skills, or access more flexibility options is increasingly common. We found that 31 percent of employees say they would seek change after what they felt was enough time at their present employer. Millennials and Generation Z are particularly prone to this behaviour (LinkedIn data 2022).

Some employees will likely quit their jobs or decline a new employment offer unless given flexible work options. Flexible working hours (42 percent) and office locations (31 percent) are among the top three reasons employees accept a job offer.

Over half of the decision makers are aware of this trend and anticipate reduced employee loyalty and increased job hopping among skilled workers. Consequently, they are actively searching for solutions, including offering additional upskilling, establishing hybrid work playbooks, and bringing in talents remotely or on a project basis.

Companies must acknowledge the strive for flexibility and make deliberate decisions to develop a modern employee experience that many employees seek to better align with their workforce. This transformation goes beyond simply allowing workers to use their private broadband connection to work from home or using state of-the art video meeting technologies.

Employers must also consider how, where, and when employees collaborate in a digital culture. What are their needs in terms of connectivity, devices, and interaction? And how can equity be fostered between on site and remote workers?

This content extract was originally sourced from an external website (Ericsson) and is the copyright of the external website owner. TelecomTV is not responsible for the content of external websites. Legal Notices

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