Today's workers have no shortage of flexible work opportunities. In a survey conducted by FlexJobs and WorldatWork, 80 percent of the companies surveyed offered some kind of work flexibility options to their employees. As work flexibility finds itself a solid place in the business world, certain trends are emerging and defining what flex work means to today's organizations and employees.
Below, we go beyond traditional remote work and look at some of these cool trends in workplace flex for 2017:
1. Digital Nomads
A "digital nomad" is someone who works remotely while traveling and living in different locations. Digital nomads use keen technology skills to stay available and connected to their coworkers and projects. Digital nomads usually benefit most from a 100 percent remote job as either an employee or a freelancer.
With so many tools out there (video conferencing, project management, instant messaging, etc.) the digital nomad lifestyle is likely to gain popularity as workers realize they can live and travel where they wish while also working fulfilling jobs.
2. The Gig Economy
Side jobs, temporary work, freelance contracts – all of these make up the gig economy. More and more workers are choosing to have the ultimate in work flexibility by taking part in the gig economy and working on a project-by-project basis. This allows workers to pick and choose the projects they wish to work on and create their own schedules. The amount of hours and money made is up to the worker.
3. Flexibility Policies
Creating formal flexible work policies is a recent trend arising from the fact that workplace flexibility is being seen more as a right and less as an earned benefit. As companies implement flexible work into their cultures, it's essential for them to to create formalized policies in order to clearly communicate rules and expectations.
Formalized flexibility policies can help companies solidify their flex work plans and determine what types of flexibility will be offered and to whom. A concrete policy will help give structure to any flexible work program.
4. Manager Training
Managing remote workers often requires different skills from the ones required to manage in-office workers. Despite the fact that more companies are offering remote work options, many managers lack training in this area. According to the FlexJobs/WorldatWork survey cited above, 86 percent of managers lack training on how to manage flexible employees.
5. Unlimited Vacation Policies
Often called "open vacation policies," unlimited vacation time has picked up speed in the last few years. Employers are trusting their employees to take the amount of time they need without limiting them to the typical two-week allotment. An unlimited vacation policy gives workers the flexibility and freedom to schedule time off according to their particular life situations, making it a definite cool trend for 2017.
6. Virtual Companies
A virtual company is an organization that has no physical office space. Companies are seeing the benefits of moving away from brick-and-mortar setups. With no rent payment, no utility payments, and no office supplies needed, operating virtually can save a lot of money. Operating remotely also allows a company to hire the best candidates, no matter where they live.
FlexJobs has kept tabs on how many companies work either mostly or completely remotely. In 2014, there were 26 companies on the list. In 2016, the list grew to a whopping 125 companies, making this a trend that's likely not going anywhere in 2017.
It's clear that workplace flexibility is here to stay. Use these cool trends to guide you as you incorporate flexibility into your workplace in 2017.
A version of this article originally appeared on FlexJobs.
Rachel Jay is an online job researcher, copy editor, and writer for the award-winning site FlexJobs.