During the past few years, flexibility in the workplace has been a critical benefit for many workers. Workers have been empowered to decide when and where they want to work, and they have come to expect it. Randstad’s recent workmonitor survey found that about 83 percent  in the U.S. consider flexible working hours important and having flexibility in location is nearly as crucial for around 74 percent. But as more and more companies issue mandates requiring a return to the office, it’s essential to consider the groups that flourished under the flexible work banner. Underrepresented groups like caregivers, minorities and those with disabilities have all found value in a different working structure. If organizations want to continue fostering a diverse workforce, flexibility must be a key component of their hiring and workplace strategies.

For workers with caregiving responsibilities, flexibility allows them to integrate their personal and professional lives leading to increased productivity and overall satisfaction. A recent survey found that 73 percent of workers use the time they save working from home to care for their kids and despite them admittedly working longer hours, 60 percent saw an increase in productivity. This same survey found that both 77 percent of managers and 76 percent of caregivers agreed that remote work improves workers’ overall quality of life. The benefits for these workers don’t just include saving time. They also save hundreds of dollars in caregiving expenses. 

Another group that has been positively affected by flexible working arrangements is disabled workers. One in four adults in the U.S. has a disability. For those with physical disabilities, transportation can be an obstacle to finding work and working remotely allows them to earn wages from their homes. Others with invisible disabilities, like those with cognitive or sensory challenges, benefit from cultivating a work environment that will enable them to meet their individual needs. The number of people with disabilities has increased in recent years. In 2022, about 21 percent of people with disabilities in the US were employed, the highest rate since the U.S. began tracking the statistic in 2008. It’s essential to acknowledge the likely reason for this change. Offering flexibility in locations, schedules and how people work has been instrumental in bringing more people with disabilities back to work. With all industries facing talent scarcity, more workforce participation can make a significant difference to employers.

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Organizations will benefit from incorporating people from all backgrounds, reaping the rewards of new perspectives, a larger talent pool, and innovation that could lead to substantial growth.

floss aggrey
chief diversity & inclusion officer, randstad north america

For many people of color, the change from traditional working has been transformative. Hence, it’s no surprise that over 86 percent of Hispanic/Latin and 81 percent of Asian/Asian American and Black workers prefer either a hybrid or fully remote arrangement. This arrangement limits their time in the office, causing less exposure to adverse experiences like microaggressions and code-switching while positively impacting their stress levels. Others have cited improvements in their mental health as they have opportunities to present themselves authentically without fear of feeling marginalized. However, when less than a quarter of Black workers feel included in their workplace, companies must take steps to remedy the situation. In this case, that can mean incorporating flexibility whenever possible.

As companies face continued economic uncertainty and talent shortages, they must implement strategies to combat these challenges. Embracing equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility is a vital part of these efforts. Organizations will benefit from incorporating people from all backgrounds, reaping the rewards of new perspectives, a larger talent pool, and innovation that could lead to substantial growth. They must also go a step further to ensure programs are universally inclusive and foster a sense of equity. Now more than ever, it’s vital to place a focus on attracting and retaining diverse talent and incorporating flexibility is just one way to accomplish this goal.

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Floss Aggrey Headshot
Floss Aggrey Headshot

Floss Aggrey

chief diversity & inclusion officer, randstad north america