Survey finds 67% would consider quitting if their work situation became less flexible

Providing flexibility is good business: 67% of employees would consider leaving if their work arrangements were less flexible.

Flexibility and choice – over their hours, workspaces, and where they will work – are the hot-button issues in today’s office.

Workers prioritize flexibility in their working hours and especially value the ability to choose work-from-home arrangements, the 2019 Staples Workplace Survey found. They’re even willing to quit a job if their work-from-home agreement changes.


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Nearly 90% of the 1,001 office workers surveyed believed more flexibility in work arrangements and schedules would increase morale. However, only 34% of their employers actually had work-from-home policies in place.

Still, people found a way to work around those lack of policies – 64% of employees said they worked remotely at least sometimes.

“Being open to remote working situations and policies is super important,” Chris DeMeo, Vice President, Staples Brand Group, told Ladders. Still, he cautions that rules should be put in place. “If you’re a company who is doing that, I think it’s good to have a formal policy in place so that there’s a common set of expectations.”

For employers, providing flexibility is good business, as it influences employee retention: 67% of employees would consider leaving their job if their work arrangements became less flexible.

Open offices still an unpopular choice

Open offices remain a bummer: 52% of respondents said an open office layout was full of distractions. Forty-percent reported that their office space was just too open.

Workers wanted work-life balance and a healthier (and less noisy) life at work.

“Work is no longer a formal or physical place,” said DeMeo. “What happens at work impacts what happens outside of work. Operating more holistically within that context is important especially as we continue to see very much a candidate’s market. To be attractive to the best talent,  and to retain top talent, we need to be operating with that mindset.”

Flexibility and choice – the two things workers craved – can be enabled inside the workplace by changing the physical workspace, said DeMeo. The wide-open office could stay, allowing for collaboration, but also be adapted to give workers quiet spaces and room to breathe.

“Creating workspaces that allow people the flexibility to work collaboratively and effectively in more of an open environment, but then also giving them the choice and the flexibility when they need dedicated focus time to have an identified space where they can sit down and really focus on a task. There’s been a pretty strong pullback against wide-open workspaces. So having the flexibility for the way I need to work today with what my work environment provides is an important element of choice for employers to consider for their employees.”

Overall, as the survey’s respondents indicated, employers are doing something very well, and lagging behind in other areas.

“Employers are doing the best at acknowledging they need to change,” said DeMeo.

“The lag is in the creation is in workspaces designed for the modern way of work – flexible workspaces. I also think there’s a lot of progress that needs to be made around being inclusive and supporting employees that may have a disability.”


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Sheila McClear|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at smcclear@theladders.com.