Given the rapid pace of change in the tech sector, Silicon Valley behemoths such as Apple, Microsoft and Google have long been ahead of the game in providing environments conducive to creative and innovative thinking.

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn on November 30, 2016

Given the rapid pace of change in the technology sector, Silicon Valley behemoths such as Apple, Microsoft and Google have long been ahead of the game in providing environments conducive to creative and innovative thinking. So, as someone who’s worked in technology and IT for many years, I was particularly interested in the research findings of our snapshot report, which looks at flexible working in the industry.

What did our results reveal? For 88% of professionals working in the tech sector, flexible working is the most important benefit, way ahead of the usual suspects e.g. private healthcare insurance (34%), commission and bonuses (31%) and pension scheme (also 31%). Money isn’t everything for tech professionals – in fact six in 10 would happily trade a 5% salary hike for flexible working.

The reasons for wanting increased flexible working won’t come as a huge surprise. Respondents cited wanting to spend more time with their families and felt that they’d be more productive and less stressed. We know only too well that an increase in worker wellbeing reduces absenteeism, productivity rises and so both organisation and individual are happy.

Lack of communication

However, don’t believe for a minute that the tech world is a flexible working utopia. Our results also revealed that there is still plenty of work to do to improve organisational cultures. Just over one in five employees (21%) are reluctant to raise the subject with their managers which would suggest that there is still a certain stigma attached. ‘Maybe they’ll think I’m not committed enough?’ ‘It could hurt my promotional prospects’. These are just some of the concerns voiced.

For me, perhaps the most surprising statistic of all is that only half of new employees were told about the flexible working stance of their new employer. It’s not readily communicated in job ads or on corporate websites – the onus is very much on the candidate to ask. Clearly, this is a dangerous game as those forward-thinking organisations that do promote flexible working at the outset will snap up the best talent. It’s as simple as that. 

There are many things that you can do and I’m sure you all have your ideas. The key point is don’t assume that your people know what your flexible working policies are. It comes down to external communication but also an internal drive to raise awareness. For example, you might want run some trials to gauge effectiveness or organise some Q&A sessions. Bring it out into the open!

While technology as an industry has been responsive in embracing flexible working, there’s still work to be done in providing the best conditions for creative talent to thrive. I look forward to your comments, so please join in the conversation.

Download the full snapshot report on the tech sector for more ideas about what your organisation needs to do to improve your approach to flexible working.