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Jump Ahead of the Curve

Access Continuum’s COVID response toolkit for leaders, teams and organizations

Continuum Consulting Services LLC

Morgan White is a Continuum consultant that has mastered the art of working a full-time position while traveling the world. Here, she dives into some of the benefits of “work flexibility” for both employees and employers.

The pandemic provided me an opportunity to return to my pre-corporate nomadic ways, living in a different city every few months, transitioning from skylines to mountaintops, across time zones, cultures, and languages. In fact, I write this just having returned from one of my many sojourns; exploring the world while maintaining productivity and professional connection, juggling not only a full-time position but also graduate school. Even though it’s good to be back home for a little while, I’ll soon be ready to board a plane again.

While traveling, I spend most of my time in COVID-safe co-working spaces, surrounded by people of varying professions and backgrounds with whom I can brainstorm, share ideas and network, and expand my circle of colleagues way beyond those I had been working with from the confines of my screen over the past year. And, yes, these places exist all around the world!

“I wasn’t able to reach my full potential as an employee or as an individual while stuck behind a desk.”

The Nomadic Choice

The nomadic choice has continually expanded my adaptability and out-of-the-box thinking while providing me the opportunity to socialize in ways the pandemic shutdown had left me craving. Through the days, I’m hard at work. At night, I have the freedom to explore new places. I’m not only happier but also more productive than ever. I’m surrounded by a community that truly defines “work hard and play hard” in a way I can get behind. And most importantly, my employer and my professors continue to be happy with my contributions.

These are opportunities I would have done anything to access when my organization was still holding to standard, in-person/in-office work schedules. Exploring the world is a core component of who I am that couldn’t be satisfied by previous work expectations. As a result, I wasn’t able to reach my full potential as an employee or as an individual while stuck behind a desk. The idea of “having it all” has finally come true for me, and I can’t imagine letting that go.

Above Salary and Benefits

While my case might be considered an extreme, I am one of many employees who has loved the freedom and flexibility in both hours and location provided by the pandemic. According to a LinkedIn Workforce Confidence survey of 5,291 US professionals, 50% note that post-COVID, flexibility in both location and schedule has become more important to them when looking for a new job, followed by work/life balance. Both factors rank above salary and benefits. This preference for flexibility is growing fast across all four generations (Boomers, GenXers, Millennials and Generation Z), represented in the current workforce. It’s highest, at 55%, in millennials such as myself, now statistically the largest chunk of the workforce.

Employers, Take Note!  We’ve Jumped out the Box.

It is vital for organizations to consider how to provide and maintain this newfound flexibility and freedom as employees return to work. As you evaluate your “return to office” plans, it might be time to develop your own out-of-the-box thinking about what it might look like for your employees.

Remember:

  • Flexibility is the new competitive advantage to attract and maintain employees. Organizations that refuse to adapt will lose talent.
  • Flexible work arrangements are needed for different reasons by every individual – whether for working parents, caregivers of other family members, those with strong interest or needs for flex time, or the nomads of the world. Having open conversations with your employees about their unique priorities will pay off.
  • Consider ways that your teams can reframe the classic work structure to provide the freedom employees want, while balancing the productivity in job function the organization needs.

It will pay off for organizations and those of us with nomadic longings in the long run.

For more info on onboarding new employees, see our post ‘How to successfully hire and onboard new employees

By Morgan White

Morgan White is part of Continuum’s consulting team, bringing expertise in employee health, wellbeing and resilience. She’s a skilled facilitator and trainer, currently pursuing her master’s