In today’s evolving workplace, employees are looking for positions that go beyond the typical corporate office. They want roles that cater to their desire for flexibility. As demographics change in the markets, the desires and demands of workers are developing, and many employers are taking note.
In a study by Harvard Business Review, American workers ranked flexibility as a close second to health benefits, demonstrating how the typical 9-5 is on its way out. As it should be. Employees who work from home are 87% more likely to “love” their job, found a study by Leadership IQ. While companies like Yahoo have very publicly abandoned remote work, it is still on the rise in the US.
As millennials become the largest group in the workforce, the desire for work-life balance is forcing companies to reevaluate practices.
Millennials are demanding more flexibility in their work and more than half of all professionals have left a job, or considered leaving, because it lacked flexibility. Companies must embrace the challenge of maintaining company culture and productivity, while retaining talent and recreating the corporate structure. More companies are adapting to these demands, as happy, healthy employees with lower stress levels are considerably more productive. Young people are redefining the way we work. They’re doing this through a desire to establish work-life balance, create experiences, and advance their careers.
The rise of the digital workforce is a main factor in the shift away from the office job.
The job market is no longer local, and the hiring pool can be global thanks to technology. Since we have the ability to work from anywhere, the need for traditional office space decreases. With 50% of the workforce projected to be Millennials by 2020, the younger generation is ready for this change and embracing new environments that are outside of the comfort zones of most Boomers. Millennials are also more interested in an entrepreneurial career path, with 67% of students looking to start their own business, rather than the 13% planning on working their way up to a CEO position.
These rapid, substantial changes have many advantages but one demographic that predominantly benefits? Women.
Women looking for positions that allow for family time, travel and flexibility, in particular. Romy Newman, founder of Fairygodboss, an online resource for women in the workplace, told us, “For female jobseekers, work-life balance is paramount. Companies that understand that women have families and create boundaries for family time and commitments are highly prized”.
The key to finding these companies and positions? Companies that are run by and hire women. “Women should look for the presence of other women in the organization. Knowing women achieve leadership roles and remain engaged with the organization is a sign of a women-friendly organization,” Newman explains.
With a swiftly changing job market, how do women fit in?
While technology brings many benefits, automation can be a double edged sword. On one side, it provides efficiency and mobility, but it can also result in a loss of jobs. Office and administration positions are the most likely threatened by automation, and are also predominantly held by women. With a loss in jobs, the fear is that the gender gap could widen, especially in industries like tech.
Currently, many women are not being offered the flexibility to pursue their career while raising a family. A Pew Research Center study found that 51% found it more difficult to advance their careers while being a mom, while only 16% of men agreed. In the same study, 42% of mothers cut back on work hours for family, but only 28% of fathers did.
Even so, these stats shouldn’t instil fear for the future of work. Instead, they create opportunity for women to gain skills and seek leadership positions. While companies need to embrace flexibility and allow all employees to make time for family.
Entrepreneurship and remote work offer a clear spot for women in the workplace.
The US workforce is projected to be 40% entrepreneurs by 2020, and women can carve themselves into that number according to a 2016 BNP Paribas Global Entrepreneur Report. Of the female entrepreneurs who took part, 90% expected to see an increase in profits within a year. Further, they reported higher revenue than their male colleagues.
Being able to take your job across the globe or create your own schedule, allows women to continue to pursue their work rather than being among the 56% that leave mid-career. As more women embrace a remote or flexible career and lifestyle, the community of women in the workforce grows, develops and flourishes.
This is very evident through co-working spaces that are being designed specifically for women, like the many we highlighted here. They are more than just an office, offering women a safe, trusted place to work with perks that are more aligned to them than the average male-dominated work spaces. Amenities such as on-site gyms, daycare, blow-out bars, dry cleaning drop-off and meal delivery are among the offerings. Female-only spaces that inspire and thrive on collaboration create a sense of community that many miss when working remotely. They also fosters mentorships that nearly half of female entrepreneurs feel they are missing.
The work place is changing. As the number of women who work remotely rises, the future of women in the workplace looks promising.
As Millennials begin to dominate the market, the demand for change is increasing – women are at the forefront.
Employers who embrace flexibility and invest in women will see the benefits through their employees and their businesses. There may be challenges with tech, culture and communication to address, but it won’t prevent change from continuing to propel forward. Technology isn’t slowing down, and neither are the women who are shaping the future of the workplace.
Written by Katie Tatham (@kltatham) Vancouver based adventurer and writer.
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