Work Flex: A Success Even Before the Pandemic

–Some old-school employers remain intransigent to offering work flex options

As the coronavirus pandemic lingers, most savvy companies in the United States have been forced to leverage flexible work arrangements , many for the first time. It’s hard to believe that prior to the pandemic so many employers were still stuck in the Stone Age regarding workplace flexibility programs (also known as “work flex”) in the 21st century. In its September 2019 article, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) reported:

[F]lex work is becoming a business imperative. The payoff is significant in terms of gender diversity but also in terms of retention, employee engagement, and a company’s ability to differentiate itself in the war for both male and female talent. . . Companies that don’t embrace flexibility will be left behind.

The pandemic has since changed the fundamental calculus of where, when, and how people work for millions of jobs. In May 2020, NPR reported:

About a third of Americans are working from home because of the coronavirus.

Yet, even prior to the pandemic, the benefits of work flex were clear. Put simply, work flex saves time and money (Forbes) while increasing employee performance, business productivity, and profits. Work flex lends itself to a healthier work-life integration for employees, which increases morale, job satisfaction, engagement, and productivity (Gallup).

However, embracing modern-day work flex policies and procedures has proven problematic for companies with an antiquated leadership and management mentality. Some old-school employers remain intransigent to offering work flex options. Yet work flex programs such as remote work (telecommuting), alternate/flexible work arrangements, and Results-Only Work Environments simply make good business sense in terms of cost savings, employee engagement, increased profits, and otherwise.

Let’s remember that Generation Z, our future leaders, are all born with smartphones and tablets as veritable appendages.

Benefits of Work Flex

Some of the many benefits of work flex include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Enhancing the elusive work-life balance craved by so many job seekers and employees, especially the sought-after millennial demographic.
  • Allowing employees to work more effectively, efficiently, and with greater accountability.
  • Boosting employee morale, company loyalty, job satisfaction, and mission-driven engagement.
  • Achieving significant cost savings on expensive building leases and office space, especially in big cities.
  • Ensuring continuity of business operations per contingency planning during shutdowns and emergencies.
  • Accommodating workers with disabilities, pregnant employees, as well as those with urgent family and caregiving responsibilities.
  • Reducing employee stress, illness, and absenteeism – the decline of which may yield lower health care costs for employers.
  • Decreasing environmental degradation inherent with gas-guzzling commutes.

Return on Investment (ROI)

Don’t take my word for it, check out the ROI via key statistics. Take telework, for example, also known as telecommuting or remote work. According to a previous calculation from

The Telework Savings Calculator™ [shows] the economic benefit to U.S. companies, employees, and the environment through mainstream adoption of a regular, half-time telecommuting practice would total over $700 billion a year.

FlexJobs previously conducted a “survey of over 1,500 job seekers looking for more flexible work options” to learn why working from home, having a flexible schedule, or freelancing are such attractive options, and what they mean for companies. “The results of this survey show that people from all ages, careers, and life stages consider flexible work options a priority,” it reports.

The Telework Research Network previously estimated:

A steady, impressive growth of 73% among overall employee teleworkers between 2005 and 2011 . . . Especially noteworthy is the federal government’s 424% increase in telecommuting personnel during the six-year period.

The Congressional Budget Office previously estimated:

The $30 million spent to implement telework throughout the government over the past five years amounts to less than one-third the $100 million lost in productivity costs when federal offices in Washington D.C. must be shut down for a single day due to inclement weather.

My Take

Work flex translates into higher business productivity and profits. That’s because work flex empowers talented staff to do their best work any time from anywhere. Savvy employers will continue to realize that progressive work flex programs, policies, and procedures are smart and sensible in today’s modern age. Work flex is clearly a big win for employers, consumers, and employees alike. Executive leadership and management at all companies should be adopting workplace flexibility programs now more than ever.

This simply makes good business sense for contingency planning during times of crisis, in addition to all other times.

This article originally appeared on The Good Men Project and is featured here with author permission.


David B. Grinberg
David B. Grinberg
David is a strategic communications consultant, ghostwriter, and literary PR agent on issues of workforce diversity, equal employment opportunity, race and gender equity, and other social justice causes. He is a former career spokesman for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), where he managed media relations for agency headquarters and 50 field offices nationwide for over a decade. Prior to his public service at the EEOC, David was a young political appointee for President Bill Clinton in the White House: Office of Presidential Personnel, and Office of Management and Budget (OMB). A native New Yorker and University of Maryland graduate, David began his career in journalism. You can find David online via LinkedIn, Twitter, Medium, Good Men Project, Thrive Global, BIZCATALYST 360°, and American Diversity Report.

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  1. Terrific piece, David. This is going to force the hand of our more traditional leaders who have difficulty letting go of control. They will have to weigh the emotional stress that it causes them personally against the financials that definitely support flex work. My husband spoke to a colleague who is a leader in the Santa Monica area and he was telling him that they were spending more than $60,000/month on parking alone, pre-COVID. That adds up to a significant savings. Quickly. Of course it’s a sticky-wicket. Commercial real estate is going to be decimated. Restaurants who relied on business lunches and commuters will suffer. Obviously the hotel and airline industries may never return to the kind of profits they once enjoyed. But we can’t take action to make things better unless we deal with what’s real. What’s real? If companies want to endure they’re going to have to find a way to make flex time work.

    • Kimberly, thanks so much for taking the time to read and share your exemplary comments. You make such good points, as usual. My view is that widespread business adoption of flexible work policies in general, and remote work in particular, was always a question of “when” rather than “if” — due to increasing tech advances making the virtual workplace more realistic and less aspirational for companies (major benefits per contingency planning, cost savings, productivity gains, and more). However, there will definitely be economic trade offs, as you wisely observe. Society will have a learning curve, as is evident now, but most employees and employers will ultimately adjust to the virtual business environment. Those left behind will have to learn new skills and reinvent themselves for working in our ubiquitous mobile, digital and virtual Information Age. This was an inevitability before the pandemic — due to the rise of automation, other new tech, and the need for greater work-life intergration. Thanks again for your valuable feedback!

  2. Flexible work is a real managerial philosophy that envisages the passage from the “command and control” paradigm to that of “delegation and trust”. A cultural change not to laugh at. It is a question of giving people flexibility and autonomy in the choice of spaces, hours and working tools in the face of greater responsibility for results.
    There are many pros and some cons in Smart Working, as in everything, after all !. However, I believe it is an excellent opportunity to save time and money, improve the quality of life and also the environment that hosts us, decongesting traffic and polluting less.
    What you can do a lot on is self-organization which means learning to organize yourself better by stemming distractions, building workflows well integrated with the team, taking the right breaks to not work too much, carving out the right space for a workstation. dedicated and finding a new way to communicate to overcome isolation and loneliness.

    • Indeed, Aldo, I appreciate your exemplary feedback. One of the major hurdles, as you astutely observe, is that too many micro-managers would rather watch over disengaged and unproductive employees in an office setting, rather than managing engaged and productive employees in a remote work environment. We all know how managers don’t like ceding power and authority, not to mention distrusting employees who work from home (as a default attitude). Nevertheless, I’m hopeful that a new generation of leadership will help to smooth over the rough edges on this new and exciting journey into a transformed 21st century work world. Thanks again for your positive engagement, Aldo, for which I’m always grateful.