Given that 40 percent of U.S. workers are engaged in some form of contingent work, it's safe to say that nontraditional work arrangements have gone mainstream.
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Chief among these newly embraced nontraditional work arrangements is flexible work. Working from home and flexible schedules were once the coveted privileges of the few, but nowadays even entry-level workers straight out of college can find positions with flexible hours and locations.
A broad range of work falls into the "flexible" category, including remote work, freelancing, and the ever-elusive digital nomad lifestyle.
FlexJobs, a career site tailored to individuals looking for flexibility in their work lives, took some time at the end of 2016 to look back on the year in flexible work. Here are the highlights:
1. Telecommuters Love Their Jobs More Than Anyone Else
Forty-five percent of telecommuters love their jobs, compared to 38 percent of mobile workers and only 24 percent of office workers, according to a study from Leadership IQ. Not only do they love their jobs, but telecommuters are also more ambitious than traditional office workers and more willing to take drastic measures to meet deadlines, such as staying up all night.
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2. Professionals Will Leave Jobs That Are Too Rigid
Thirty-three percent of professionals have actually left a job, and another 14 percent have thought about it, because the job had no flexibility, according to FlexJobs' Fifth Annual Super Survey. In addition, 18 percent of respondents reported keeping their ears to the ground in case something more flexible came up. People want flexible work so badly that only 3 percent of respondents said they cared if taking such a job affected their career progression.
3. Remote Work Has Gone Global
Thirty-eight percent of Americans work from home at least one day a week, according to a survey from PwC. Fifty-three percent of workers in India prefer to work from home, according to the Times of India. The Financial Times reported that the number of at-home workers in the United Kingdom topped 4 million in 2016. Saudi Arabia boasts 500 companies across 70 cities that allow workers to dial in remotely, and Toyota began letting one-third of its Japanese workforce work from home. Turkey even passed laws to protect remote workers from discrimination, according to Enhesa.
4. It's a Good Thing Flexible Work is Global – Because Flexible Workers Want to Travel
According to FlexJobs' Super Survey, one of the top reasons employees want to work remotely is so they can travel. When you can take your job with you, it doesn't matter how much vacation time you have.
5. The Benefits of Flexible Work Have Now Been Proven by Science
The University of Minnesota teamed up with the MIT Sloan School of Management to study the effects of flexible work initiatives at a Fortune 500 company. Seven hundred workers were split into a control group and a flexible work group. The flexible group reported more control over their schedules, more support from their bosses, more family time, greater job satisfaction, less stress, and decreased psychological distress.
You can't argue with it. Flexible work is good for you and for business. It's science.