Almost one in three (32%) Australian employees that could work from home say their employer does not have a formal work-from-home (WFH) policy despite three in four currently doing at least some of their job from home, according to new research from Officeworks.

The 2023 Officeworks Flexiworks Snapshot revealed that more than nine in 10 respondents (92%) agree that employers should have a formal WFH policy in place and 91% agree WFH allows for better work-life balance than working in the office. 

Flexiworks ambassador and one of Australia’s leading voices on the future of work, Dr Ben Hamer believes employers can no longer afford to sit on the fence when it comes to flexible work arrangements.

“These Flexi Fence Sitters, employers which have yet to formalise a WFH policy, are not meeting the workforce’s expectations. There is a talent shortage in Australia and flexible work is one of the most important factors in recruitment,” he said.

The Flexiworks Snapshot also found seven out of 10 WFH-capable employees would not consider an employer without a flexible working policy. Among those who have looked for a job in the past two years, 46% have declined a job offer with unsatisfactory flexible work conditions. Among those currently WFH, salary was their top job criteria (34%) followed by work-life balance (16%) and flexible work arrangements (15%).

“People are actively choosing not to work for inflexible companies, so embracing flexibility is a no-brainer in this war for talent. Flexibility has a value attached to it and, in a market where many organisations aren’t in a position to simply give their people massive pay rises, flexible working can be a quick and easy win,” Hamer said.

“Employers also stand to benefit from affording employees a healthy balance between home and office work. Not only is it excellent for attracting and retaining talent, it has great benefits for productivity, providing employees with different work environments suitable for a variety of tasks such as team collaboration and deep thinking. This way, it empowers workers to do their best work.

“The role of the office has fundamentally changed forever. It’s about collaboration and connection, not productivity. The data from the US backs this up as well, which shows productivity dropped when people came back to the office because they were making the most of being with their colleagues and not burying their heads in laptops. We need to move away from this whole ‘come back to the office because you’ll be more productive’ angle.”

Officeworks managing director, Sarah Hunter commented, “Flexible work is now ingrained in employee expectations and is an important part of the future of work. For those businesses that are yet to do so, it’s time to reflect on flexible work arrangements, policies and practices to become an employer of choice and to set employees up for success.

“Services like Flexiworks are an excellent place to get started by capturing a clear picture of your workforce’s needs through the self-assessment tool and then equipping employees to perform to their full potential.” 

Flexiworks enables businesses to select a range of fit-for-purpose office supplies, furniture or technology for their employees. Each employee is then set up with an allowance to access and order what they need to work effectively from anywhere.

The Flexiworks platform includes an Online Ergonomic Assessment Tool for employees to complete upon signing up, allowing them to receive personalised recommendations based on their survey results. Features such as in-home office, and tech setup and furniture assembly are also available for employees who require additional support. 

Business decision-makers can provide their employees with a one-off, monthly or annual allowance to shop for products and services they need to work from home or anywhere which benefits employers with better cost control and simplification of administrative tasks.