Whether or not today’s businesses recognise it, flexible work is now the number one tool for reducing office and workforce costs, and for doing ‘more with less’. Just as technology has become an increasingly important part of the workplace in the past decade, there is a similarly helpful tool now at our disposal.
It is now easier for businesses to tap into the potential of flexible work, thanks mainly to our new ability to stay remarkably connected. As a result, working in other locations for part (or all) of the time as part of a virtual team is now cheap and accessible.
New factors are also driving employees’ increasing interest in flexible work: more households are dual-earners, travel times have increased in our large cities and stress levels are on the rise.
Today’s flexible work imperative
Flexible work can reduce the high direct and indirect costs of staff turnover. In a recent, large-scale global study, 43% of staff would choose flexible work over a pay rise. This means your staff would rather stay with you, if you offer a virtual team working arrangement, than go elsewhere for a pay rise.
A quick question for you: if one third of your existing customers indicated an intention to leave and purchase elsewhere, would you consider this a significant threat to your business? Interestingly, the same UnifyCo study showed that one in three staff would accept a new job if it offered better flexible working conditions. A long string of research has made similar discoveries.
To retain top talent, it doesn’t take much to discover that flexible work is an effective method.
Cost savings and productivity gains
There are other costs to be saved. Take the case of working from home as part of a virtual team. Having your staff work from home a few days a week is an effective method to reduce your accommodation bill: lease costs, utilities, parking and so on.
Costs can be saved in other ways through flexible work. For example, you can avoid the significant costs associated with getting new staff. Estimates of the cost of staff turnover range between 25 and 250% of an employee’s salary, depending on the complexity of the role and the ease of rehiring. These costs include the costs of rehiring; retraining and on-boarding new staff.
Deloitte Access Economics recently estimated that large organisations could save $350,000 per year on rehiring costs alone by using ICT to work flexibly, while small organisations could save $22,000 per year.
Another compelling reason to adopt virtual teams is the proven productivity return. I wrote about this previously.
Despite the flexible work imperative, I regularly come across businesses that are stuck seeing today’s workplace through the lens of the past, which leads them to think that flexible work is primarily a benefit for their employees.
All of this points to an incredible opportunity for today’s forward-thinking businesses: offer flexible work through virtual teams and avoid the costs of losing valuable talent, plus make other savings and productivity benefits along the way.