This spring, we conducted our 2015 ConvergenceCoaching, LLC Anytime, Anywhere Work Survey and published the “big picture” results in our August 26th blog. In the survey, we asked firms to share the positive and negative results they experienced as a result of their flexible work programs. In this week’s post, we’ll explore the valuable insights our participants generously shared.

Even though we saw a 57% increase in participation, respondents cited the same top two positive benefits as last year: that their flexible work programs resulted in better work/life balance and enhanced morale.

Some of the other positive results or benefits firms attributed to their anytime, anywhere work programs include:

  • "These types of programs have helped us build trust into our teams."
  • "If you are having trouble keeping or finding staff, these types of programs might help."
  • "It will improve your staff retention immensely!"
  • "It’s a great benefit that allows us to keep great employees."
  • "Flexible work programs improved morale among our employees."
  • "It is worth it!"

For 2015 we added two new response options: retained staff who have moved out of our geography, which ranked fifth in number of responses received, and relieved space constraints, which came in last in the number of responses received. We anticipate that relieved space constraints will rank higher in future surveys as firms grapple with rising costs for labor (the #1 expense on most income statements) and building lease costs (the #2 expense on most income statements).

Anytime, anywhere work programs can create or highlight challenges as well. Not surprisingly, communication remained the top challenge created by anytime, anywhere work programs. Communication is a hot button issue in almost every organization we talk to!

It’s also no shock that technology issues moved up to the 2nd most frequently cited challenge. While technology is only one component enabling successful flexible work programs, it can be an enormous impediment if it is not optimized for remote work, easy accessibility, efficiency and more. We’ll share some fantastic detailed technology insights we received from survey respondents in a future blog.

Resentment from those who don’t believe in these types of programs moved from the 3rd biggest challenge in our 2014 to last place this year, signifying a welcome shift in the acceptance of anytime, anywhere work programs. We are excited by this development as flexibility becomes more ingrained in firm cultures.

Here are a few of comments respondents shared related to negative side effects they experienced from their flexible work programs:

  • "Has highlighted the need to train on how to better communicate and set expectations."
  • "Has highlighted process issues that need to be adjusted."
  • "Has made managing deadlines more difficult."
  • "Our two greatest obstacles to further implementation are the difficulty of supervising audit staff and the desire of the client to see us onsite."
  • "Results in some days where many managers are not present."
  • "Sometimes we can "forget" they're not here, especially when scheduling staff meetings."
  • "Remote technology has made some feel that they can't disconnect."

The number of positive result responses (445) outweighed the negative (247) by almost 2 to 1 – something we are pleased, but not surprised to see. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t develop strategies to mitigate the potential negative impacts increased flexibility can bring and we’ll explore ideas for improving communication and maintaining culture in future writings. We’ll also share the “one piece of advice” participants shared with us in the survey in our next blog on this topic.

In the meantime, it is encouraging to see that anytime, anywhere work programs are making an enormous difference in the recruiting and retention success of firms across the country.

Best regards,