Annie Dean and Anna Auerbach are the co-founders and co-CEOs of Werk, the first and only people analytics platform that helps companies build flexible cultures through data.
For hundreds of years, workers have been waking up, getting dressed, and joining the rush hour commute to their company office. But going to the same building 5 days a week, 365 days a year is quickly becoming a thing of the past due to our rapidly shifting employee demographics and the ability to stay more connected than ever through technology. Simply put, work is no longer a place we go, but a thing we do. And to that end, fewer and fewer people want to—or need to—work from the same desk all day, every day.
So what does this mean for the future of work? It means that all employees will expect their employers to offer some form of location variety as part of their flexibility policy, and employers will recognize that location variety is more than just a change of scenery. It’s a powerful people solution that benefits employers and employees alike.
At Werk, we call this type of flexibility DeskPlus. In simpler terms, DeskPlus is the ability to work away from the company office for some portion of the work week, whether it’s from home, a co-working space, or coffee shop, and it can be utilized on a pre-set or ad hoc basis.
In our research, DeskPlus is the most sought-after of the six types of flexibility. But it was also tied with Remote as the flexibility type with the biggest gap between supply and demand. Our research found that while 84 percent of the workforce needs DeskPlus, only 21 percent has access to it, creating a whopping gap of 63 percent.
So why should companies care about closing that gap? One of the biggest arguments for location variety is that it has been proven by multiple researchers that it really maximizes employee loyalty and productivity. Our research shows that inflexible workday structures make it challenging for 29 percent of the U.S. workforce to perform optimally in their roles, for 29 percent to bring their whole selves to work, and for 37 percent to feel inspired or energized by their physical workspace.
As we can personally attest, DeskPlus helps on all fronts. We both use it here at Werk, and many of our employees do, too. The location variety of DeskPlus allows workers to drill down on attention-intensive work without the distractions of an office. It frees them from arduous and time-consuming commutes. It keeps them healthy when coworkers are sick (and keeps contagious workers at home). And it even boosts their productivity: Just check out the company that enjoyed a performance improvement of 13 percent when employees had the ability to work at a location of their choosing separate from the company office a few days per week.
And then there are the real estate savings. If companies accommodated just half of the individuals who need DeskPlus by transitioning to hoteling, desk shares, and other alternatives to fixed workspaces, they could optimize a third of their real estate.
And that’s one of the reasons we love Upflex. The company’s mission is all about DeskPlus: “Giving your employees the benefit of flexibility—whether it’s once a week, while traveling, or anytime—is the best way to keep your employees happier and more productive.” The workspaces Upflex offers range from global chains to small individual workspaces, letting employees choose from a diverse portfolio to fit the way they need to work, whether they need to focus on maker time or connect with HQ when they’re out of town—among a vast array of other uses.
According to Upflex’s research, companies save $11K per employee per year with part-time remote work, and save $1,800 per employee per year from the resulting 63 percent decrease in unscheduled absences. 84 percent of people in coworking spaces report boosts in their motivation and engagement, and employees with flexible work churn out four or more hours of output per week. And 95 percent of employers say flexibility has a high impact on retention. And did we mention that big-name companies save millions annually simply by optimizing their real estate through location variety?
Simply put, DeskPlus has too many “pluses” to enumerate in one blog post. It’d be one thing if those pluses only benefited employees. But everything that companies stand to gain through location variety makes DeskPlus a no-brainer.
Are you ready to build a flexible culture at your company? Visit Werk.co to see how we can help.