Workplace Flexibility: the Key to Employee Satisfaction

6 min read
Jun 8, 2022

Employee satisfaction is a significant part of retaining employees and increasing productivity. As an employer you might be wondering, what does employee satisfaction mean in our organization and how do we achieve it?

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One thing we do know for sure though is one of the greatest factors that impacts employee satisfaction is the working environment. Positive working conditions where employees feel safe and valued are one of the best ways to keep employees happy.


The truth is, employees express greater satisfaction in the workplace when they’re able to work how and where they want. But the kind of environment employees want to work in has changed in recent years. When workplace arrangements started to shift in 2020, many employees found that flexibility in the work environment improved their quality of life. For many, this looked like working from home, working hybrid, or at the very least, having a more flexible work schedule.


Effective employers know employees stay where they are when they’re taken care of, and retaining employees is what’s best for any company. But with so many options out there offering more flexibility than a traditional working environment, how do you keep employees happy? Let’s look at why the workplace environment matters when it comes to employee engagement and satisfaction.


Why does the working environment matter?

Studies on job satisfaction show that employees are more motivated to do their job well when they have positive working conditions. Working conditions can refer to a lot of different factors—from tools and equipment available to the cleanliness of the office. But overall, they describe the environment in which an employee is completing their day-to-day tasks, as well as the culture within the workplace. Company culture is so significant when it comes to employee satisfaction that toxic culture is one of the most common causes of high turnover rates within an organization. Even though culture is one of the aspects of a company that is felt more than it is seen, it still has major effects when it comes to retaining employees. 


For full-time employees, 40 to 50 hours a week are spent in this environment. Without even including the time spent commuting to the office, employees spend more time at work each day than they do with their families. The workplace environment matters because a positive environment is what keeps employees engaged and working efficiently. Without a positive work environment, companies have high turnover rates and decreased employee satisfaction. 


The reality is when employees had no choice but to work remotely at the start of the pandemic, this opened up a world of possibilities for them. Employees were able to be productive from the comfort of their homes, they saved time and money since they lacked a commute, and they were able to spend more time with their families. This shift in work location made many employees realize what they wanted out of their job had changed.


Where do employees want to work?

Many employees have realized it’s not necessary or even beneficial for them to work 100% in-person. Despite some employers feeling that productivity would suffer if their employees were working remotely, it has the opposite effect on productivity. So what would be the ideal situation for most employees?

  • Hybrid remains the most popular workplace situation
  • Most employees prefer to work in a hybrid way where some time is spent working in the office and some time is spent working remotely. This gives employees the best of both worlds. The preferences for work location have also stayed consistent even for employees of different ages. Both HR and employees have consistently agreed working hybrid is the most productive arrangement. 
  • Remote remains the second most popular choice.
  • Even though hybrid work has been the most popular work arrangement since 2021, remote work is now preferred over 100% in-person work. After the pandemic started, over 71% of workers were working from home at least most of the time. According to a Pew Research survey, over half of employees wanted to keep working remotely even after the pandemic
  • Fully remote and hybrid employees were less likely to quit than 100% of in-person employees
  • We know the switch to a hybrid or remote working environment can be challenging. However, organizations are significantly more likely to retain employees when they are allowed to work where and how they want. Part of implementing a positive work-life balance is offering flexible work options. When employees were asked whether they were likely to stay with their current organization, in-person employees were 150% more likely to say they planned on quitting.  


At the beginning of 2020, many employers allowed their employees to work remotely only because of the state of the world. Some companies struggled to make these changes and were eager to go back to their previous ways as soon as it was plausible to do so. But time has proven that returning to the old way of doing things is not necessarily the best thing for workplace culture or employee retention. So what are the benefits of allowing employees to work where they want?


Benefits of letting employees work where they want

If you’re struggling with employee engagement and workplace culture, letting employees have more flexibility in where and how they work might be the shift you need to increase employee satisfaction. Here are some of the benefits of letting employees work where they want:

  • Employees experience less burnout
  • According to a Limeade report, 40% of employees stated burnout as one of the top reasons they were leaving their job. Part of reducing burnout is helping employees manage their workload more effectively. Flexibility in both work location and working hours can help employees be more productive instead of letting their workload become overwhelming.
  • Employees are more committed to their jobs
  • If an employee isn’t committed to their job, there’s nothing keeping them from searching for something better. Employees who are more committed to their jobs are less likely to leave, and a higher retention rate is beneficial for everyone. Even from a financial perspective, it costs over $16,000 to replace the average American worker. If an employee is loyal to you and the organization, their engagement increases and they become a valuable part of your team.
  • Employees have better work-life balance
  • Work-life balance is a term that’s thrown around quite a bit, but it seems like many employees still struggle to balance their work-life with their personal life. Flexible working conditions allow employees to keep their families a top priority while still staying engaged with their work. 


The benefits of allowing employees to work at home or implementing a hybrid approach extends to the organization as well. When employees feel they don’t have to sacrifice their personal lives for their work, they’re more willing to commit themselves to their job during their working hours.


How to involve employees in the process

So you’ve determined letting employees have more flexible options in the workplace will benefit your company. What’s next? Involving employees in the process is a crucial step to increasing employee engagement. Since the desired working conditions for an employee can vary, you first need to find out what your employees want. To accomplish this, an employee survey is a great place to start.


Employee surveys are a simple and effective way to receive feedback and gather data. When you create an employee survey, the survey questions should allow your employees to be honest, and not feel like a trap where your employees feel you’re fishing for a specific answer. Often, anonymous feedback is the best way to encourage honesty.


When engaging employees on the topic of work environment, you also may want to find out why employees want to work remotely or in person. The reasons for workplace location vary by the employee. For example, many employees working hybrid stated parenting responsibilities as a top reason for their preferred work location. Those who preferred working completely remotely stated commute and work-life balance as their top two reasons. On the other hand, those who preferred in-person work stated productivity and communication as their top two reasons.



How and where employees work has changed a lot since 2020. Despite many employees being laid off during the pandemic, workers are also leaving their professions in droves. Because of this, employee engagement and satisfaction are more important than ever. When employees aren’t engaged, they have no reason to stay with an organization. One way to increase employee satisfaction is to allow your employees to work how and where they want.


If your employees are dedicated to your company and loyal to you, they’re going to be better employees. All organizations should be investing in retention because of the negative effects high turnover has on company finances and culture. From benefits to training and onboarding, it’s much more expensive to hire a new employee than it is to retain an existing one. In addition, it’s near impossible to build a positive culture when you’re constantly losing employees.


Take the time to get feedback from your employees on how and where they want to work. You might be surprised by their answers. 

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