Tuesday, October 27, 2020

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Flexible Work: Here to Stay, But Have You Nailed the Formula?

Reflections on Atlassian’s white paper (Oct, 2020) Reworking Work: Understanding the Rise of Work Anywhere - global research into the impacts of COVID-19.

In February this year – before many Australians shifted to remote work - we shared our thoughts on Employee Benefit Trends & How to get Ahead in 2020. As part of this forecast, we reflected on a 2019 study by Group Insurer Metlife which showed flexible work to be one of the most desired (47% of those surveyed) benefits by Australian employees. While 75% of Aussie workers were annoyed it took a pandemic to make it happen, the findings from Atlassian’s comprehensive 2020 global study on remote working further supports this sentiment.

Further to its impressive 2020 Reworking Work white paper, Atlassian shared its TEAM Anywhere policy with the world in August this year. As progressive as the tech giant itself, TEAM Anywhere allows employees to choose where and when they want to work; a policy underpinned by a commitment by Atlassian to focus on the outcomes of its employees rather than hours worked. Equally, TEAM Anywhere enables Atlassian to recruit the best talent from anywhere in the world - a savvy play by the employer.

In Reworking Work, Atlassian studied the working from home experiences of 5,000 workers across Australia, France, Germany, Japan, and the US during COVID-19. Revealing the good, bad and the ugly of remote working, we’ll explore the following 3 key questions, specific to Australia:

  1. What do employees LIKE about remote work?
  2. What CONCERNS employees about remote work?            
  3. How can companies EVOLVE for remote work / the future of work?    

What do employees LIKE about remote work?

Most (73%) Australian respondents were satisfied with their company’s leadership during the health crisis. In general, Australian employees surveyed had a positive remote working experience, with 68% reporting improved job satisfaction and 70% saying their work life balance had improved - as shown in Figure 1 below. Many employees felt empowered by the flexibility and convenience of this new way of work, and believed they were more productive and effective when working remotely.

With less time commuting and avoiding unnecessary distractions at work, employees had more time for family, loved ones, hobbies and pastimes. Another powerful insight: 86% of Australian respondents reported greater appreciation of their quality of life outside of work.

What CONCERNS employees about remote work?

Remote working has its challenges. For example, many Australian study respondents felt their remote working arrangements could damage their career progression.

While employees felt more productive and effective at home, 42% are working longer hours. Reduced in-person contact also meant more time spent wrangling emails (as acknowledged by 77% of respondents) and reporting to clients and managers (66%).The social interaction offered by workplaces was also missed by many employees, particularly by Australians (75% Aus vs 50% of employees globally). After all, us Aussies do love our banter!

It was also interesting to note that Australian respondents were less open to a mix of home and office work compared to the global sample (27% vs 46%). The majority (43%) of Australians preferred to work completely from home, while almost one third preferred to work solely from the office.

Figure 1: Some key individual and organisational findings revealed in the study.

How can companies EVOLVE for remote work / the future of work?

With pressure on the bottom line, companies are finding unique ways to continue recruiting and retaining quality talent through robust employee benefits programs.

Research in the US by AFLAC shows 55% of employees would ‘somewhat accept’ a job with lower compensation but more robust employee benefits, while 80% of would prefer to retain their current job with benefits as opposed to accepting a role with higher pay and no benefits.

As the research shows, a robust employee benefits offering coupled with a considered flexible work strategy will remain an integral part of an employer’s overall benefit proposition. Atlassian’s study identifies three key factors impacting the effectiveness of working remotely:

  1. the complexity of the worker’s home life
  2. the complexity of the worker’s employment role
  3. the quality of the worker’s social and work network.

Thus, each person’s ‘WFH’ experience is different and subject to change. Dominic Price, Work Futurist at Atlassian, aptly captures this:

“If you’ve ever said your people are your biggest asset, now is the time to act upon that”.

Companies today have a unique opportunity to ask questions, to listen to their employees’ feedback around what works and what needs tweaking in order to land a strategy and culture best suited to their greatest asset, their people.

We're with you - all the way

At Honan, we understand the power of holistic employee benefit schemes and in particular, how to respectfully tailor them to your people, and communicate them across your business.

Our Global Benefits team has extensive experience working with clients of all sizes across the globe and will work collaboratively with you to achieve a robust solution truly fit for the future of work, and the future of your organisation. Contact us to discuss your employee benefits proposition at any time.

Shabab Maqsud - Client Manager, Employee Benefits  


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