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Working where you want? Some tips for employers

By: Ralf Bovers

Working from home with purple overlay

The Netherlands’ move toward greater legal recognition for remote working has been greeted with widespread enthusiasm. For employers considering how to formalize ‘working where you want’, Crunchr’s research shows that a one-size fits all approach doesn’t work.

The Netherlands is moving toward greater legal rights for ‘Working Where You Want’, or as the Dutch say, ‘Werken Waar Je Wilt’. The lower house – the House of Representatives – recently voted through the legislation, which is now making its way to the Senate.

The news was met with enthusiastic headlines, some of which may have given the wrong impression. Working from home won’t actually be a legal right, as some media outlets declared. That wouldn’t make sense for a number of jobs – like bus drivers, brain surgeons, football coaches, to name a few – but the law would mean that employees have the right to request remote working. And employers would have to give a clear explanation of why they are turning down such a request.

As has been well documented, the pandemic forced many to realize the benefits of remote working and it is now – for many in office jobs – considered the new normal. Employers have had to adapt and consider carefully how to introduce such arrangements. PwC’s US Remote Work Survey from January 2021, for example, found that 83% of employers said the shift to remote work had been successful, which was an improvement from the 73% that was recorded in June 2020.

Now many countries are expected to follow the Netherlands’ lead with greater legal rights for remote working. For employers who need to formalize their ‘Working Where You Want’ arrangements, there are a few things they need to consider.

Our research, which was conducted during the height of the pandemic in 2020, showed that a one-size fits all approach doesn’t work for companies. And given the move by companies to formalize arrangements, we have prepared some tips for employers that is based on those findings.

Our research showed that customization is critical when it comes to introducing ‘Working Where You Want’ as the support that is needed by employees depends on their age and their situation at home. We divided the type of employees into four broad categories: millennials; employees with children; those living alone; and employees aged 55+.

Each type has specific needs that employers need to consider. The PwC US Remote Work Survey found that the least experienced workers – those with up to five years’ experience – are more likely to want to be in the office more often. This echoes the findings of our research. Millennials were more likely to report an impact on their mental health. In fact, one in three reported they struggled with working from home. We also found that millennials (i.e. those aged up to 34) miss the social interaction of an office environment. They need to feel understood by their employer and need commitment and communication from them.

Tip for employers: Regular updates and digital pep talks would work well for millennials.

Employees with children value flexible working hours. They need access to collaborative tools, and regular updates from the manager are also highly appreciated.

Tip for employers: Give confidence and flexibility to homeworkers with children.

Those living alone found collaboration tools the most important, and they need social interaction. They also benefit from regular manager updates.

Tip for employers: Check regularly how your single employees are doing.

As more experienced employees, those aged 55 and over are more likely to want to work from home when compared to their millennial colleagues. They benefit from being trusted to get on with their work, as well as being given clarity on their objectives. Some in this group, however, will need additional technical support in the tools needed to effectively work from home. 

Tip for employers: Pay attention to, trust, and give clarity to your employees who are over 55.

We estimate that if the approach to remote working is customized, there will be a much greater level of satisfaction among employees. The biggest tip of all? A one-size fits all approach does not work for ‘Working Where You Want’.

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