Worker with flex.

No doubt about it: the workplace is an ever-changing landscape, and employers need to know what it will take to keep them competitive. According to a recent FlexJobs survey, there’s one thing that virtually every worker and job seeker wants…and that’s flexible work options.

What People Want at Work in 2016

In its aptly titled 5th Annual Super Survey, FlexJobs polled over 3,000 respondents to get their opinions on flexible work, its importance to them, what type of flex they wanted (and why), and even what they would be willing to sacrifice in order to have flexible work options.

If your company still functions as a brick and mortar, you might be hesitant to consider implementing a flexible work policy. If that’s your position, consider this: according to the survey, a paltry 7 percent of workers say that they get their best work done in a traditional office environment.

That explains some of the reasons why respondents claimed that they would be more productive working at home versus an office, including having fewer interruptions from coworkers (76 percent), less distractions (75 percent), and a decrease in meetings (69 percent). Other reasons cited include not having to deal with office drama (68 percent), less stress from having to combat daily commutes (67 percent), and just having a more comfortable space to work in (51 percent).

Segments of the Workforce Who Want Flex

There’s definitely a perception that working parents (and in particular working mothers) are the driving force in the workplace for wanting flex. And in some part, that’s true, as 39 percent of those who responded to the FlexJobs survey were working parents.

But other segments of the workforce also want flex, including freelancers (26 percent) who are predicted to represent more than 40 percent of the workforce by 2020, according to a separate study. The office-shy workers (aka introverts) come in third at 21 percent, followed by entrepreneurs (20 percent), caretakers (16 percent), and digital nomads (11 percent).

Reasons for Wanting Flex

Despite how workers categorize themselves, there are still unifying factors as to why they want workplace flexibility. Four major reasons stood out, such as work-life balance (79 percent), family (52 percent), time savings (48 percent), and decreased commuting stress (47 percent).

It makes sense, then, that workers equate flex with less stress—and better health. In fact, almost the entire respondent pool (97 percent) proclaimed that a job with flex would have a positive impact on their overall quality of life. More than three-quarters (79 percent) believed that a flexible job would make them healthier, and 87 percent stated that it would lower their stress levels.

In order to obtain a flexible job, the people surveyed claimed that they would be willing to make certain sacrifices in order to have telecommuting options. More than one-quarter (29 percent) would be willing to take a 10-20 percent pay cut in order to have flex. And it doesn’t stop there: 22 percent would be willing to forfeit vacation time, and 15 percent would be willing to give up employer-matching retirement contributions.

Types of Flex

It’s easy to see that the workforce wants flexible work options. But what types of flex are they specifically interested in? Most (86 percent) would like a full-time telecommuting job, while 73 percent of respondents would be happy with a job that has a flexible schedule. Almost half (49 percent) would like partial telecommuting, followed by part-time work (48 percent), alternative schedules (48 percent), and freelance work options (44 percent).

The majority of respondents were ages 30-49 (54 percent), followed by those ages 50-59 (23 percent), and ages 20-29 (12 percent). About half of those who responded had an associate’s or bachelor’s degree (48 percent), 32 percent had a graduate degree, and 16 percent had some college but no degree. In terms of career level, more than half (58 percent) considered themselves experienced, while 32 percent had managerial or senior-level managerial experience. Entry-level workers came in third, at 10 percent.

The findings of FlexJobs’ 5th Annual Super Survey are interesting because they reflect what workers really want out of a job—and it’s not necessarily salary or benefits anymore. By understanding how important flex is to the majority of the workforce, employers can tailor their flexible work policy to attract—and retain—top talent, making their workforce stronger (and more flexible) than ever.

Readers, are you offering flex to your workers? Tell us about your experience with flexible work options.

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