Flexible Work Schedules: Key To Boosting Millennials' Productivity

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The cultural mindset of millennial workers and the ability to connect to the web from nearly anywhere are driving workplace flexibility demands, according to a new report.

Driven by widespread access to high-speed wireless internet, portable mobile computing devices, and a generational shift in workplace attitudes, more workers are looking to adopt flexible work schedules, according to a FlexJobs survey of more than 3,000 respondents.

The study found 51% of respondents prefer working at home when they need to get important work done, while others seek out co-working spaces, coffee shops, and libraries. Another 65% of respondents think they would be more productive telecommuting than working in a traditional workplace.

The top reasons people are more productive working at home versus the office include fewer interruptions from colleagues (76%), fewer distractions (75%), and less frequent meetings (69%).

While we clearly know that people value work flexibility, it was a bit surprising to see that it was number one factor job seekers consider when evaluating a job prospect -- even ahead of salary. We also consistently hear how important work-life balance is to people, but it's noteworthy also that work-life balance is just as important as salary when deciding if a potential job will be a good fit.

Reynolds noted that she was not surprised to see that only 7% of workers are most productive working in an office during traditional hours.

"From constant interruptions from colleagues to unproductive meetings to regular distractions typically encountered in an office setting, workers are simply able to concentrate more in an environment that really works for them--be it a home office, coffee shop or library," she said.

People surveyed believe flexible options would positively impact their health, with 97% responding that a job with flexibility would have a positive impact on their overall quality of life and 79% think it would make them healthier.

Reynolds explained technology, in terms of powerful and portable computers and smartphones, is definitely one facet of this trend towards flexible work schedules, and noted some additional other factors, like the availability of high-speed internet and generational changes stand out.

"The largest generation at work, millennials, have for the most part grown up with telework," Reynolds said. "They completed their secondary school and college homework from their bedrooms, or their parents' home offices, rather than having to go to the library to access the technology and tools needed. And they're used to collaborating online."

[Read how your company can be an IT talent magnet.]

The most in-demand type of flexible work arrangement continues to be total telecommuting (86%), however, having a flexible schedule (73%), partial telecommuting (49%), part-time work (48%), alternative schedules (48%), and freelance work (44%) were also in demand.

Only 3% said report that they worry a lot that a flexible work arrangement will hurt their career progression, and 29% would take a 10% or 20% cut in pay for the option to telecommute

Reynolds also noted for anyone who might have the concern that a flexible work arrangement will hurt their career progression, she recommend being proactive in communicating accomplishments and goals to the rest of the team.

"Make sure people understand how you're spending your time, the value you add to the team, and the things you're accomplishing each week," she said.

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