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False flexibility

The #1 candidate demand

It’s no secret that working from home is a major element of influence within the job search process for candidates. But it’s not just major, it’s actually now the number one decider in a candidate’s job search, above salary, career development and culture, according to our 2023 Market Trends report. Since the pandemic, it has been recognised as the way forward, evolving from a hybrid model to overall flexibility, also referred to as asynchronous work, with employees having near complete control over their work diary. However, the term flexibility is thrown around as an enticing perk, when often it is a split office/home working arrangement under disguise. Hence the term: false flexibility.


Flexibility isn’t just working from home

Companies are often quick to say they offer flexibility, however, this is commonly mistaken as working from home. Whether this is intentional or not, candidates are starting to build an expectation of what flexibility actually entails. For example, working from home 2 days a week and being in the office 3 days is a hybrid working arrangement, but it’s still an arrangement being enforced by management and isn’t necessarily flexible for the employees.

Flexibility is about giving employees the opportunity to mould their place of work and hours in a way that optimises their performance and state of mind.


To mandate or not to mandate

When 'mandatory' comes into the mix, there is a fine line between whether or not the term 'flexible arrangements' can still be applied. Rather than looking at mandating the arrangements, think about taking a benefit-led approach to influencing employees instead. For example, having the whole team in on specific days to collaborate will help with efficiency in communication, or coming in on an event day will be great for building culture. Talk about how being in the office will benefit them and the culture, still leaving the decision up to the employees.

The candidate's checklist you need to consider

Candidates are using certain criteria to understand whether they are considering a company that is offering the flexibility they are looking for. Using the words ‘we offer work from home’ may have been attractive before, but if the company can’t back it up with actual flexible arrangements, the meaning of those words will start to flake and the candidate may back away. As a hiring manager, ensure you can answer favourably to most if not all of the following questions:

Are hours flexible?

Does remote work include interstate and/or international?

Does the location of remote work need to be reported to management?

Do ad hoc hour changes need to be reported to management?

Are work-from-home days able to be chosen?

What is the attitude around working from home? Even if on offer, some managers are still pushing for working from the office.

Do employees feel trusted when working from home?

What resources are provided to assist with remote working?

How does the company maintain culture with remote and in-office employees?

The early adopters of flexible work arrangements have by now adjusted to accommodate the above and are comfortable in leaving their employees to curate their own recipe for productivity, for the benefit of company culture. It doesn't take long to realise when people are taking advantage of this in a negative way as productivity drops off. This tends to be infrequent and those situations can be managed accordingly, whilst still benefiting all other employees.

For those who have offered limited work-from-home arrangements, those who are bringing employees back into the office, as well as those who have a fear of the demise of culture due to flexible arrangements, flexibility is a much more uncomfortable concept. In the end, it is about understanding the desirability of the company within the jobs market, and what candidates judge to deem this. That is currently, and will likely be for a long time, flexibility, used as a reflection of the company culture, sense of trust and consideration of the employee. ​

As always, our Client Engagement Director Chris Crollais available to provide advice on the implementation and offering of flexibility. Our team of consultants can be contacted here for Banking, Finance and Technology and here for Accounting and Payroll Support

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