Flexible Work for Non-Office Workers?

4 min. read

More blue and gray-collar workers want flexible work

The latest Workmonitor Pulse Survey from Randstad found that 42% of blue-collar workers and 48% of grey-collar workers consider job flexibility as or more important than pay, a portion nearly as high as their white-collar counterparts (54%). Gray-collar workers are in roles that provide a service, and may be customer-facing, but they are not based in an office. They include jobs like engineers, IT professionals, and child care workers. Blue-collar jobs are those that involve mainly manual labor, like construction workers, mechanics, and machine operators.

U.S. workplaces are familiar with flexible work arrangements for office workers. But we tend to think of non-office workers as always having fixed, rigid, on-site schedules. This may not be so true. More companies are now offering novel, flexible work arrangements for other kinds of workers as well.

Sander van ‘t Noordende writes in Forbes that more flexible working hours, locations, and self-scheduling benefits can provide many of the same benefits to gray and blue-collar workers. "In a post-pandemic world of work, the global workforce is clearly seeking jobs that fit around people’s lives rather than the other way around," van ‘t Noordende says. "By considering unique ways to fulfill their employees’ desire for greater flexibility, organizations are better positioned to overcome the challenges of talent scarcity for many years to come."

Amazing Workplace loves to see new opportunities for happy workers. Here are some ways that workplaces might offer new flexibility:

  • Self-scheduling tools. Letting workers have a say in their own schedule has a huge payoff. Traditional on-site schedules frequently require workers to go to extremes to balance their childcare, family needs, and personal time. For workplaces that are willing to make the jump, applications and cloud platforms are now available to make it possible for many kinds of employees to pick their own schedule. This not only improves work-life balance and increases employee happiness, but it also simplifies the barrage of schedule change requests that managers in these fields often juggle.
  • Off-hours work and off-site work. Many roles are ripe for a rethink about when and where the work is done. Some companies have responded to the tight labor market by making new shifts available that did not exist before, simply because that's when employees are available and willing to work. Many tasks in facility maintenance, technology infrastructure, and other business-to-business services can be done at off-hours without disrupting the customer's experience. New remote access technologies, robotics, and telepresence technologies even enable some of these jobs to be done from offsite.
  • Childcare, family-care, and paid parental leave. Providing some financial support to care for family is just as good as flexibility, because they enable the worker to either care for their family during important times or ensure that their loved ones are cared for while they are working. Office workers have in recent years benefited from huge gains in paid time off and family leave. Other workers are beginning to expect the same, but while 70% of employers offer family care benefits, many of the holdouts are in blue and gray-collar fields.
  • On-site improvements. Breaks are a critical part of the workplace experience for workers who have site and time restrictions. But breaks are only as good as what employees can do while they are on them. Providing better break facilities can improve the quality of the limited time between work for physical workers. Consider options like employee gym space, snacks, wi-fi access, improved furnishings, or appearance upgrades.

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