Is Flexible Work Here to Stay in 2023?

Dec 19, 2022

Most businesses now include at least some kind of flexible work arrangement, whether that’s letting their employees be 100% remote or simply allowing them to work from home 2-3 days a week. Others prefer in-office work but are now more willing to make exceptions for things like school holidays and special circumstances.

But as we move into 2023, is flexible work here to stay? Or will we see a return to in-office work? Here’s what the numbers say.

Workers prefer flexibility: the data

Several studies conducted in 2022 suggest that remote work is in fact here to stay.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics found that more than 40% of employees worked from home last year: a 30% rise from before the pandemic. David Gruen, chief of the ABS, expects that number to rise in 2023 as businesses face increased pressure to let their employees work from home for at least part of the week.

Similarly, the Melbourne Institute found that 61% of workers in Australia believe they can do at least part of their job from home. While the number of employees who preferred flexible, at-home work was higher than the number of employers currently allowing flexible work, there could be a push for more at-home work in the future, causing employers to change their minds.

Another good indicator of the permanence of flexible work is the rising amount of empty office space. In Sydney’s central business district, according to the Property Council of Australia, 9.3% of office space is now vacant, up from 3.9% before the pandemic. And in Melbourne, that number is almost 10%.

As more people come to expect flexible work as the standard, dissatisfaction with companies who still demand in-office work 5 days a week is growing. Many employees will simply leave for another company willing to be more flexible, and most job candidates expect their prospective employer to offer flexible work. Under these circumstances, it’s easy to see why flexible work looks like it’s here to stay: today’s employees won’t settle for anything less.

The benefits of flexible work

According to a recent survey of 2000 Australian workers, conducted by Swinburne Edge and Deloitte Australia, most employees value their mental and physical health above their pay-grade. Two out of three employees surveyed said they would rather have more flexibility than higher pay, and 93% rated their personal well-being as just as important as their pay. While some people may prefer coming into the office to socialize, flexible work generally improves employee well-being by granting more freedom and a better work-life balance.

Some employers cite flexible work as helping to improve diversity in the workforce. Because it reduces travel costs and makes things easier for those with children at home, remote work is a game-changer for many. With all these benefits, it’s easy to see why many employees today are simply demanding to have the option of working remotely.

But the benefits aren’t just for employees: companies can save thousands of dollars by switching to remote or flexible work, as it cuts down on overhead costs like office space, utilities, and in-office materials and equipment. It’s also an environmental win, since it decreases commuter traffic.

How to make the most of remote work

If flexible work is indeed here to stay (and both the data and the experts say it is), what can businesses do to adjust to this new normal?

  1. Use flexible workspaces

There’s no point paying rent and utilities on an empty office. While some businesses may still need a dedicated physical office, many could probably get by with a fully remote team or a flexible workspace. There are plenty of coworking and flexible workspace options that offer special amenities for businesses who may need them, and the cost is generally more affordable and predictable than renting out an entire building or unit.

  1. Streamline communications

One of the main inconveniences of remote work is not being able to talk to someone in-person. But using an app like Slack or Microsoft Teams can clear that hurdle, as many companies have already discovered. Scheduling a daily group call to get everyone on the same page can also be helpful—but with a caveat: sometimes these meetings simply become wastes of time. Email and messaging apps can often accomplish the same thing.

  1. Check in to keep employees engaged

While remote work has actually increased employee engagement, it’s now more vital than ever to make sure your workers feel connected and appreciated. It may be worth scheduling periodic one-on-one calls to make sure everyone has what they need, and/or having open office hours, even if there’s no physical “office” to speak of. While you may have to get more creative in terms of learning and engagement, make sure your employees still have plenty of opportunities to grow and advance.

Remote and flexible work has definitely changed the shape of the average work day and affected how many companies do business, but with plenty of positive change that—at least in most cases—far outweighs the bad, it looks like remote work is here to stay. And in light of that, the smart thing for companies to do is accept the new status quo and adapt their business models accordingly. After all, not all the benefits are just for employees: flexible work brings plenty of benefits for employers as well.

All of the material published on this web site is for information purposes only and does not constitute advice. This information is of a general nature only and has been provided without taking account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this, we recommend you consider, with or without the assistance of a Financial Adviser, whether the information is appropriate in light of your particular needs and circumstances

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