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Flexible working continues to reign supreme, but not why you think

By Jack Campbell
15 May 2024 | 9 minute read
charles cameron RCSA reb tmcer3

Despite the increase in back-to-office mandates, it appears flexible working is still the popular option. It may not be the employer’s choice, however.

The global consensus among employees and employers is that flex working is here to stay, according to a study by the World Employment Confederation (WEC).

However, this isn’t because employers prefer this model; in fact, it’s out of necessity. The data revealed that 92 per cent of respondents said they’ll need a more flexible workforce in the next two years to fill labour market gaps, keep up with developments, and shield permanent employees from volatile workload shifts. In Australia, 80 per cent agreed, and in New Zealand, 100 per cent did.

Recruitment, Consulting & Staffing Association chief executive, Charles Cameron, commented on the study, noting the shift in attitudes due to talent sourcing issues: “We are not outliers. The data in the WEC reports highlights we are facing the same challenges experienced on a global scale, and that the way people want to work and the way employers want to hire has fundamentally shifted worldwide.”

“In Australia, New Zealand and across the globe, businesses are looking towards that flexible workforce to plug holes, and employees are enjoying the freedom of casual work. Seventy-five per cent of Australian and 70 per cent of New Zealand senior executives surveyed by the WEC say employees now value flexibility around where or when they work as much as factors like compensation.”

He added: “It’s time for governments to recognise this shift by using policy to support these changing employment dynamics in today’s world of work.”

Artificial intelligence (AI) was a major area outlined in the report that has caused disruption in processes. In fact, 81 per cent of senior executives said AI and tech disruptions require them to radically rethink skills and resources, and 88 per cent of respondents said they plan to increase their use of agency workers in response to the market dynamics.

Agency workers may become a lifeline for organisations looking to plug skills gaps: “Twelve of the 16 Australian and nine from 10 New Zealand companies surveyed say they are looking to increase their engagement with agency workers. The data highlights how vital agency workers have become in today’s employment and economic landscape,” Cameron said.

The immense change the workforce has experienced in recent years and the challenges that come with this change are forcing employers to rethink processes and reevaluate what’s important.

Cameron said: “It once again shows that we are on the same page as the rest of the world. We are on the precipice of a global change in how the world views work; it’s great to see that our trajectory is the same.”

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