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During a recession, businesses look for creative and inexpensive ways to reward employees in lieu of offering significant raises or extravagant bonuses.   Data from businesses operating during our recent recession shows that many employers have turned to the option of incorporating work flex opportunities in order to reward, engage, and attract employees.

In April this year, the Families and Work Institute along with the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) released the  2014 National Study of Employers.   In comparison to a similar report in 2008, there is a 17% increase in employers offering the option to work remotely in some capacity, with a total of 67% of respondents offering this option.  The findings were from data given by over 1,000 HR professionals from September 13, 2013 to January 31, 2014.

The report also found that small employers (at least 50 employees) are emerging as leaders in offering flexible-work policies, offering more opportunities in all capacities: traditional flextime, telecommuting, time off during the workday and gradual returns after childbirth or adoption.

I titled 2014 the Year of Flexibility – a trend that can be incorporated, in some capacity, for every business, and is becoming necessary, as it is a pre-requisite for many potential employees before even considering taking a new position.  I’ve found many candidates who will turn down larger salaries in favor of more flexibility options.

I am also in that category of candidates who will require flexibility options of all future employers.  I began working virtually in December of last year for Purple Ink and the ability to work from anywhere – home, coffee shops, libraries – has been the most significant benefit my employer could offer!  And the fact that I work through blizzards, we have no office space costs, and I can work on the weekends are significant benefits to my employer as well.

I believe successful businesses in the future will embrace project-based employment rather than requiring desk time from 8 – 5.  Employers shouldn’t need to define time and place where the work gets done but rather WHAT work gets done and when it is due.  Projects can be assigned with interim deadlines with feedback given along the way.

Where the work is done, in many cases, can be irrelevant.

Catherine Schmidt
Catherine Schmidt
Catherine Schmidt is Purple Ink’s Manager of Career Coaching Services and is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Catherine has a special interest in career coaching and recruiting and finds joy when she can connect the right person to the right opportunity.

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