How Flexible Work (and Commuting) Can Help Companies Attract and Retain Talent in the “Great Reshuffle”

Apr 26, 2022

Zoë Randolph

Content Strategist

Out of the ashes of the “Great Resignation” has emerged a new era in the relationship between employees and employers: the “Great Reshuffle,” a fundamental shift in employee expectations.

Where companies once competed largely on compensation and office perks (ping pong tables, anyone?), the post-pandemic job-seeker expects, above all, a new level of work-life balance. A recent LinkedIn study found that, at 63%, work-life balance both narrowly outranked compensation and benefits (60%) and soundly beat colleagues and culture (40%) as the top priority job seekers looked for when choosing a new job.

Changes to office culture, like banning weekend emails or encouraging people to take more vacation, are steps in the right direction, but many companies are looking to real, structural changes that can cement a commitment to a healthier working environment. 

Here are four changes companies can make to improve work-life balance in order to woo (and retain) top talent:

1. Implement a 4-Day Work Week

Researchers and forward-thinking workplaces have been exploring the benefits of four-day work weeks for years, and data suggest that slicing a day off of the work week can make employees significantly happier—without sacrificing productivity or revenue. (For those intent on retaining the 40-hour week, some compensate with four ten-hour days.) 

In addition to offering an extra day off, the four-day work week cuts down the amount of time (and money) employees spend getting to and from work. No one will complain about that!

2. Embrace Hybrid Work

After two years of work-from-home and hybrid models, it’s clear that being in the office every day isn’t a prerequisite for effective work. But while more than 70% of workers report an affinity for working from home, an almost equal number still value in-person collaboration—even if it isn’t every day. 

In response to these new expectations, many leading companies, including Google and Microsoft, are shifting to a long-term hybrid work model that encourages employees to spend some days in the office and some days at home. 

Spending some of the week working from home is a boon for employees in many circumstances, especially those who live far away from the office. By not requiring employees to make the trip every day, people with longer commutes feel less strain on their time and resources. 

3. Encourage Alternatives to Drive-Alone Commutes

Driving commutes are among the most stressful and least-productive means of commuting, while also the most prevalent

Alternatives to drive-alone commutes give employees a chance to be productive on the way to and from work. Some employers even allow employees who work during their commutes (on a wifi-enabled train or company shuttle, for instance) to count their travel time toward their working hours. 

Even if employees don’t work during their commute, ditching the car can do big things for work-life balance. Those who opt for active commuting like walking or biking can get a workout in during their trip to the office, while those on public transit can enjoy quality time with a good book, arriving at the office far less stressed than they would have been after an hour in traffic. 

4. Offer Coworking to Allow Employees to Work Closer to Home

One problem standing in the way of work-life balance is a simple (though major) one: distance. When employees are far-flung, it’s nearly impossible to find commuting options that make it easy for everyone to get to the same, central office. 

To combat this tricky geographical problem, some businesses take advantage of the rise of co-working spaces to create smaller, more accessible office hubs. 

With reliable data about where your employees are coming from, you can create heat maps of employee housing. By modeling commute options in different regions, you can identify the most effective places to set up satellite offices. Though they won’t replace your HQ, smaller working hubs can offer time- and cost-effective ways to get people in the same room—without making them trek across town every morning. 

Using Flexible Commuter Benefits to Improve Work-Life Balance

Key to allowing employees to reclaim better work-life balance is to offer commute flexibility. How? Instead of set-in-stone amenities like monthly parking passes, consider adopting more flexible programs that allow commuters to pick and choose how and when they take advantage of them. 

With flexible spending cards, for example, you can allocate pre-determined dollar amounts for use with specified vendors across public transit, parking, bikeshare, and more that allow employees to make choices that are right for them. A more flexible approach ensures employees get access to the amenities they want and need, while employers aren’t left footing the bill for expensive, under-utilized programs. 

The Takeaway

Finding the right solution (or solutions) for your company requires, above all, that you understand your commuters. 

The best-designed commuting plans take into account both what employees want (via surveys and behavior metrics), as well as what they need (via route tracking and mode data). By understanding where your employees are coming from, how often they commute, the modes they rely on, and what alternative options exist, you can design commuting programs that will minimize the negative impacts of commuting, improve work-life balance, and help your workplace stand out in an age of employee empowerment.

For more on building flexible commuting programs, download our free white paper, Managing Employee Commute Spending in the Hybrid Workplace.

Better commuting starts here.

Better commuting starts here.

Better commuting starts here.