FlexJobs’ recent 6th annual survey of more than 5,500 people interested in flexible work has provided new and surprising insights into how and why work flexibility matters. While some findings were not too shocking (for example: workers are most interested in 100% telecommuting, people think they are more productive working from home instead of the office, and the majority have left or considered leaving a job because it did not offer flexible work options), other findings were more surprising.
“There is a much broader diversity in the types of people who want and/or need flexible work–especially telecommuting, flexible, and/or part-time schedules–than is commonly recognized when looking at the workforce. This is largely because many historical and antiquated stigmas continue to fuel misconceptions about what flexible jobs are and who wants them. For example, only working parents want flexibility, work-from-home jobs are all scams, or working flexibly will hurt your career prospects,” said Sara Sutton Fell, founder and CEO of FlexJobs. “But the response from our survey showed that the interest in flexible work spans generations, educational backgrounds, and career levels, and that the respondents associated themselves with a wide variety of groups, such as introverts, entrepreneurs, digital nomads, people living in a rural areas, students, and those managing health issues. There are a variety of reasons people from all walks of life seek work flexibility, and working outside the traditional 9-to-5 office is not a ‘nice to have’ but a true necessity for many of them,” Sutton Fell concluded.
Here are 15 surprising findings about people interested in flexible work:
- Flexible work is not just important to working parents. Highlighting the broad appeal of work flexibility, 40% of the 5,500+ respondents did not have children. While working parents are certainly helping drive the flexibility trend, there are plenty of job seekers without children that seek and value work flexibility.
- Millennials have been in the spotlight of the job market for some time as the main proponents of flexible work, but the rate of response from older workers was roughly the same as those from younger job seekers on issues surrounding work flexibility. Respondents in the 20-29 age group was 11%—roughly the same as the 11.5% response rate in the 60-69 age group.
- 70% of respondents had at least a bachelor’s degree or a graduate degree, challenging the myth that work-from-home jobs in particular are only offered in lower-level jobs.
How they work/job search:
- Not at all freelancers juggle multiple gigs. Of the 1,300+ survey respondents who described themselves as freelancers, 38% reported having 1 gig at a time; 51% juggled 2-3 gigs at a time; 8% have 4-5 gigs at a time; and 3% have more than 6 gigs at a time.
- Although coworking spaces have recently received attention as a hot workplace trend, only 1% cited these spaces as the preferred place to go when they need to get important work done. 52% prefer their home office for maximum productivity.
- Using social media in one’s job search has become more common; however, 26% said they do not currently use any social media platforms in their job hunt.
- Scammers targeting online job seekers continue to find victims, despite warnings against them. 8% have been scammed once and 5% have been scammed at least one time. 10% know someone who has been the victim of a job scam and 12% know more than one person who has been the victim of a job scam.
- Countering the notion that working from home may dampen career prospects, the vast majority of respondents—72%—said they are not worried that a flexible work arrangement will hurt their career progression.
- While some respondents said they would be willing to exchange certain benefits to have work flexibility, such as vacation time or 401(k) contributions, 43% said that should not be necessary. This is strong indication that work flexibility is no longer considered a negotiating strategy or perk but, increasingly, an expected job benefit.
Why they want flexible work:
- 16% of survey respondents said health or disability concerns are a factor in why they search for flexible work. Fortunately, more employers are offering flexible jobs forpeople with disabilities, particularly remote positions that allow workers to set up home-based offices.
- Bad commutes are not uncommon. 31% of respondents reported having round-trip commutes of more than two hours.
- It’s not all about the money. Work-life balance (72%) was the most important factor for job seekers when evaluating a job prospect, ahead of salary and a flexible schedule (69%).
- Despite the skyrocketing costs of health coverage, 17% of respondents said they would trade health insurance from their employer in exchange for the option to telecommute.
- Flexible job seekers enjoy working, with nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents reporting that they work both because they need to work and want to work. An additional 11% work solely because they want to.
- While the majority of people said they work to pay for basic items, pay off debt, save for education, or travel, more than a quarter (27%) also work to contribute to charity and 15% work to help support their parents.
To help job seekers interested in finding flexible jobs, FlexJobs recently identified the top 30 companies hiring freelancers, the top 25 companies hiring for remote jobs, and the top 15 companies for working parents.