Tech

Employees would turn down a $30,000 raise to keep working from home. It’s the clearest sign yet that flexible work is a necessity, not a perk.

  • A study from professional network app Blind shows employees prefer flexibility over a $30,000 raise.
  • The finding signals that hybrid work is more than just a nice perk — it’s a necessity.
  • Flexible work leads to fewer missed days, less turnover, and improves career longevity.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

According to employees at some of the nation’s top companies, flexible work is no longer just a nice-to-have perk. It may be a necessity.

A new survey of 3,019 employees conducted by Blind, an anonymous employee community app, found workers at employers including Amazon, Microsoft, and Google would rather work from home than receive a $30,000 raise. 

“For high-earning tech employees, $30,000 does not substitute for the benefits of having flexibility,” Kyum Kim, co-founder and head of operations at Blind, told Insider. “Companies simply cannot force people back to the office especially when there are other remote jobs available elsewhere.” 

It’s perhaps a clear sign that employees prefer flexible and remote working because it saves them money on commuting, gives them more time with their families, allows them to take more breaks, and gives them more choice in where they live. Companies such as Spotify, Salesforce, and Twitter have already announced plans to allow employees to permanently work from anywhere they choose.

For many employees, flexible work may now feel as vital as their internet connection or morning coffee, which no amount of extra money could replace.

Recognizing the value of remote work

Offering an option for remote work is proven to be a powerful recruitment and retention tool. Research from jobs site FlexJobs shows that remote work significantly improves worker engagement, which leads to fewer missed days, less turnover, and greater career longevity. It can also be a boon for diversity and inclusion, giving more options to disabled workers, parents, and those who may live outside of major cities. 

Spotify, for example, is hoping its new “Work from Anywhere” program will allow the company to recruit more diverse talent. 

“If we can start to hire from even more markets than what we had in the past, we will have diversity when it comes to experience as to perspectives on life, on products, on everything,” Alexander Westerdahl, a vice president of HR at Spotify, previously told Insider.

But not every executive recognizes the value of remote work. Some are concerned about the loss of company culture, despite the many organizations that have shown it can be recreated virtually.

Cathy Merrill, the chief executive of Washingtonian Media, wrote in a recent op-ed in the Washington Post that if employees are unable to participate in the office culture because they are remote, they should be reduced from full-time status to contractors. 

“So although there might be some pains and anxiety going back into the office, the biggest benefit for workers may be simple job security,” she wrote. “Remember something every manager knows: The hardest people to let go are the ones you know.”

Flexibility is always an option, even when WFH isn’t

To be sure, some jobs cannot be done remotely. Retail and restaurant workers, for example, don’t have the luxury of working from home. But employers should, where possible, look for opportunities to provide flexibility to these workers.

Julia Pollak, a labor economist at ZipRecruiter, previously told Insider that companies should provide options for those workers to easily exchange shifts. 

Blind’s Kim told Insider that companies need to be thoughtful about how they’re bringing employees back. Instead of being solely focused on productivity, they should instead find ways to make workers’ lives easier. 

“Employers need to take into account factors such as public health, sense of safety, home logistics, which are more important than productivity,” Kim said. “Instead of asking the question of ‘How do I create a productive workplace post pandemic?’ they need to ask ‘How have the lives of their employees changed over the past 15 months?'”

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