How a Flexible Workplace Can Drive Recruitment and Retention

An important key to company success is having the right employees with the right skills on staff. However, across many industries, the competition to attract and retain talented workers is fierce. To win this competition, employers invest in talent attraction and retention strategies – including, increasingly, flexible work options. By using telecommuting as a business tool, companies can give employees control over their days while still realizing benefits.

In North America, close to 40 percent of our employees at PAREXEL take advantage of telecommuting and flexible work opportunities. This adaptable location strategy not only attracts qualified candidates but also increases retention rates among existing employees. In addition, a company culture focused on high performance and inclusion helps to ensure the success of home-based employees.

In today's competitive market, identifying and hiring the right candidates with very specific skills can be difficult for many organizations. This is particularly true for companies that require all employees to work from office locations. Because both candidates and employers often limit their searches geographically, they often overlook great opportunities due to geographic limitations. For high-volume roles requiring difficult-to-find skill sets, it may be impossible to locally hire all the employees a company needs.

Rather than artificially restricting the talent pool, flexible workplaces give organizations the option to hire without being bound by office location. Even in a competitive market, this can help drastically reduce the time to fill and yield more diverse candidate populations. Flexible workplaces allow companies to hire the talent they need to build teams with wide ranges of backgrounds and expertise, which in turn leads to overall client satisfaction and company success.

For global organizations, there are many benefits of allowing employees to work from home. Offering flexibility in working location provides employees with the ability to organize their busy personal lives around their work schedules. The ability to work independently improves how employees view work/life balance and fosters a relationship of trust between employer and employee.

When hiring for a decentralized role, companies should interview with a focus on whether applicants have the core competencies necessary to succeed in remote environments. Questions employers should consider while evaluating this include:

Will the employee be productive?

Will they network internally and establish relationships with peers even without face-to-face contact?

Do they manage their time effectively?

While it is fairly easy for companies to offer work-from-home opportunities, it is far more challenging to build an inclusive culture in which employees who work from home feel like they are part of the team and as equally valued as their in-office counterparts. Toward this end, managers should receive training on how to effectively manage virtual workers and collaborate with decentralized employees. In addition, technology plays an important role in helping manage employee performance across long distances.

As the global economy changes, telecommuting will become increasingly valuable in efforts to attract employees, retain employees, and promote cultural diversity and inclusion. Today, around 20 percent of PAREXEL's 20,000 global employees participate in flexible work arrangements like telecommuting, flexible schedules, and home-based employment. For our company, this is essential to meeting organizational growth goals and helping our clients more effectively.

Offering flexible work options supports high-performance cultures and brings benefits to organizations, employees, and clients alike. Flexibility allows companies to offer high-quality service from a global perspective using tools and practices built for today's workforce and helps position organizations as industry leaders among both candidates and clients.

Kevan Nicholson is regional director of talent acquisition, EMEA and PAREXEL. Laura Cotto is PAREXEL's regional director of talent acquisition for the Americas.