July 10, 2021
It must be frustrating to work so hard to acquire something you know you won’t use (or would be negatively impacted if you did use it), but that’s exactly what’s happening with our teams who are demanding workplace flexibility. A recent Deloitte survey of 1,000 workers showed that 94% want flexibility (remote work and flexible hours), but 80% also think “regular office attendance” is important for climbing the ladder. So even though nearly everyone wants flexibility, the vast majority recognize it would have consequences on their career growth. And it shows in how they participate in employee programs – less than half of Deloitte employees have used flex hours and only 41% had worked remotely. (Wow.)
The survey results are from Deloitte, but the same thing could happen at any mature company in any corner of the world. This is a call to action for leadership to rethink our values, period. And we don’t need to just think about it; we need to talk about how we plan to change it and then act on it… if we intend to retain our employees over the next 6-9 months. Creating a truly flexible work environment is largely in the hands of leadership. The answer isn’t (solely) to issue a policy – the answer comes in truly supporting the flexible options and finding ways to work differently in our own workstyles to embrace new communication systems, new ways of engaging, celebrating, and connecting, and new ways of establishing trust with our teams. One of the biggest advancements we can make is to start valuing our teams’ results more than the time they spent on it. And to value the outcomes, not the consistency of the process used to get there. Focusing our feedback toward results and outcomes shows our teams we trust them, and our leadership focus is on the bottom line (not on how to dictate their schedules or workstyles). It may take some effort, but setting up this workplace culture now can lead to greater productivity and new possibilities in the #futureofwork.