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This Strategic Growth Lever is Right Under Your Nose. Harness It To Multiply Your Company's Success. A just-released report uncovers a surprising correlation between company growth and work model flexibility.

By Gleb Tsipursky

Key Takeaways

  • The size of your business doesn't matter as much as you think it does.
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As the world wades through the evolving tides of the post-pandemic era, one thing has become crystal clear: the future of work is flexible, as I tell my clients, who I have helped figure out their hybrid work models. In a recent Flex Report from July 2023, compelling evidence supports a direct correlation between a company's flexibility in its work model and its rate of growth.

The flexible advantage

The Flex Report from July 2023 brought to light some game-changing insights on the role of flexibility in shaping a company's growth trajectory. According to the data, flexible companies — those categorized as either fully flexible or structured hybrid — are accelerating their pace of growth at an impressive rate. Specifically, these companies are adding headcount at over twice the pace of their full-time in-office counterparts.

Flexibility in the report's context refers to companies that either have no physical office space, denoted as fully remote, or those that provide their employees the freedom to decide when or if they want to work from an office. These are marked as Employee's Choice. This model of flexibility embraces the notion of giving employees control over their work environment, which, as the report suggests, maybe the secret ingredient in the recipe for growth.

Among the Fully Flexible companies, the Fully Remote category reigned supreme. These boundaryless enterprises, unhindered by geographic constraints, saw a 6.9% increase in their headcount. Compared to a 5% increase for companies categorized as employee's choice, it's evident that fully remote companies are setting the pace in this race.

However, let's not forget about structured hybrid companies. While these organizations have specific expectations on when employees work from an office, they still offer a degree of flexibility. Their growth was not far behind, with a 4.1% headcount increase, outpacing full-time in-office companies, which only managed a 2.6% increase.

In a world where talent is the ultimate currency, these numbers tell a compelling story. The more flexible the company, the greater its ability to attract and retain talent. This trend underscores the fact that flexibility is no longer a mere perk or a buzzword. It's a powerful competitive advantage, a magnet that pulls in talent and fuels the engine of growth. In this new world of work, flexibility isn't just a nice-to-have — it's a must-have.

Related: 68% of Companies Are Making This Critical Mistake in Their Approach to Hybrid Work — Are You?

The days in office dilemma

The Flex Report also unveils a fascinating correlation between the number of days required in the office per week and the company's growth in headcount. It appears that the number of days an employee is required to be physically present in an office has a direct impact on the company's ability to attract and retain talent. That finding strongly supports the broader idea of the flexibility advantage.

Companies that mandate employees to be in the office one day per week experienced a robust 4.8% increase in headcount over the last 12 months. However, as the number of mandatory days in the office increased, the headcount growth rate began to show a decline. Companies requiring four days in the office saw this figure drop to 3.8%, and for companies requiring a full five-day office week, the growth rate fell further to 2.6%.

Consider this scenario. You're a talented professional with several job offers on the table. One company demands your physical presence five days a week, while another only requires one day of office attendance, offering you the liberty to work from home or elsewhere for the rest of the week. In today's increasingly connected world, where work is something you do, not a place you go to, which offer would you be more likely to accept?

This data presents a compelling argument for companies to rethink their office requirements. The findings suggest that a mandate of more days in the office is a deterrent for job seekers. A more flexible approach, allowing employees to work remotely most of the week seems to be more appealing and will likely lead to higher growth rates.

In essence, the more days a company demands its employees to be present in the office, the less attractive it becomes in the eyes of potential employees. And the drop-off is especially steep after three days. In the end, the data speaks for itself: Flexibility isn't just an employee perk; it's a strategic growth lever.

Size doesn't matter — flexibility does

While it's a common belief that the size of a company can impact its growth trajectory, the Flex Report unveils a different story. No matter the company's size, flexible work models consistently outperform full-time in-office models in terms of headcount growth. This trend is a testament to the power of flexibility and its ability to fuel growth irrespective of a company's size.

The data reveals that this pattern is especially pronounced for companies with 500-5,000 employees. In this category, flexible companies have more than doubled the rate of headcount growth compared to their full-time in-office counterparts over the last 12 months. It's like watching two runners in a race, with the flexible company swiftly outpacing the full-time in-office company, even though they both started at the same point.

Even when we turn our attention to larger companies, those with over 5,000 employees, the trend holds true. Fully flexible companies outperformed their structured hybrid counterparts, boasting a 3.7% increase in headcount over the last 12 months, compared to a 2.9% increase for structured hybrid companies.

Moreover, this trend remains consistent even when the tech industry — a sector known for its embrace of flexible work models — is removed from the analysis. Across all company sizes and time periods, full-time in-office companies lag behind their flexible counterparts in headcount growth.

Imagine a racing event where cars of different sizes compete, and the smaller, more agile cars consistently outpace the larger, more powerful ones. Similarly, in the race for growth and talent, it's not the size of the company that gives it an edge, but its agility and flexibility. The ability to adapt and offer flexible working options is what truly fuels the engine of growth. This trend underscores the fact that in the modern world of work, flexibility is not just a competitive advantage — it's a necessity.

Related: How Flexible Work Will Give Your Business the Biggest Advantage

Flexibility: The secret sauce for growth

It's clear that companies offering work location flexibility are growing their headcount faster than those requiring full-time in office. Over the last three months, fully flexible or structured hybrid companies have been adding employees at twice the rate of their full-time in-office peers.

The data suggests that the companies adding headcount are likely also the ones growing sales. The growth in the economy, at least for corporate employees, seems to favor companies offering flexibility. If this trend continues, it's likely we'll see a decrease in companies requiring full-time in office, shifting towards hybrid models that better cater to the needs of the workforce.

So, for the corporations out there still grappling with the concept of flexible work, it might be time to loosen the reins and let flexibility gallop forward. The data suggests that in the race for growth, flexibility isn't just a nice-to-have — it's the winning steed.

The future of work is here, and it's flexible.

Gleb Tsipursky

CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky, CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts, is a behavioral scientist who helps executives make the wisest decisions and manage risks in the future of work. He wrote the best-sellers “Never Go With Your Gut,” “The Blindspots Between Us,” and "Leading Hybrid and Remote Teams."

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