News / Research

Who are the employees utilizing work flexibility?

Maxymedia, Creative Commons

Maxymedia, Creative Commons

In the previous blog post we wrote about our survey findings related to what extent the employees of two organizations participating in CityWorkLife project utilize flexible work options. It was noted that there are huge differences between different employees – some utilize flexible work options significantly more than others. This finding arouses a question: Who most often utilize the opportunity to decide when, where, and for how long to engage in work-related tasks? Who are the people who would want to utilize this kind of flexibility?

Interestingly, based on our data set, we could sketch a profile of a typical organizational employee who utilizes flexible work options. That is, in our data set a typical employee who made the most of spatial and temporal flexibility options was highly educated, young and had family responsibilities. In addition, in our data set particularly men worked flexibly: rather surprisingly, in both organizations it was particularly men who most often reported working from other locations than the office and who most often made temporal changes to their working times.

However, when we looked whether we could find some factors that would characterize employees who most highly value flexible work opportunities that organizations provide, there were absolutely no differences between men and women – both genders appreciated the flexible work options similarly. Instead, other factors than gender seemed to characterize employees who considered flexibility to be very important for them: again, particularly young generations, employees with family responsibilities and university degree appreciated flexible work options the most.

These results of the use and appreciation of flexible work options very likely reflect the content of work – flexible work options are most easily adopted in tasks that require high education – and it may be that in these kinds of tasks men were over-represented in our sample. Nevertheless, if we view the results – particularly those that reflect the appreciation of flexible work options – from the organizational viewpoint and consider how organizations might need to develop themselves to attract new generations as new work forces in the future, the importance of flexible work options becomes apparent. That is, based on our findings it could be concluded that in order to be able to recruit the best employees of the future generations, organizations need to invest in flexible work options – these may be one of the most important criteria for becoming generations looking for new challenges.

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