Is a Flexible Work Future Unavoidable?

Imagine that you are given the ability to remove a strategic tool from your biggest competitor, such as their ability to use email. The loss of the ability to communicate with customers, prospects, and staff would be crippling. Yet, I can recall at least two CEOs that our firm worked with in the 1980s when email was just gaining popularity who flatly stated, “I don’t do email.” There were a few more who had their secretaries print out every email they received and leave them in a stack for their handwritten responses. That system probably did not work out well for them as a strategy in the long term.

In today’s business environment, flexibility has likewise emerged as a critical strategy for success, particularly within service industries and the service components of product-centric businesses. Adoption of flexible practices, especially asynchronous communication and hiring policies, can be an operational superpower.

This shift towards flexibility highlights its significance in attracting and retaining top talent, as employees increasingly prioritize work-life balance over traditional compensation packages. A groundbreaking study of 30,000 U.S. workers by Barrero et al. (2020–2023) titled “Why Working From Home Will Stick” quantifies this trend, revealing that employees value the option to work from home at an equivalent of 7.2% of their earnings. This finding underscores a broader economic narrative in which the appeal of flexible work arrangements influences workforce dynamics and compensation structures, potentially exerting downward pressure on real wages for positions that offer such flexibility. Imagine that you have a 7% net operating profit advantage over your competition. Now think about them having that advantage over you.

Beyond catering to individual preferences, the strategic integration of flexibility into business operations serves as a catalyst for organizational innovation and efficiency. By embracing an asynchronous work culture, companies can transcend the traditional time constraints associated with in-person work, unlocking new levels of productivity and collaboration. This is obvious with teams that have members in time zones on the opposite side of the globe and are used to requesting projects at 5PM local time and finding them completed in their inbox the next morning. However, it is also powerful for firms with local staff that have varying peak productivity times during the day. By developing a habit of asynchronous messaging, the communications that might have waited until an in-person meeting or explanation occurred are no longer a barrier to the timeline. This operational enhancement is not merely about accommodating personal preferences but about redefining the very nature of work in the modern era.

The implications of this shift are far-reaching. For service businesses, where human capital is the primary asset, the ability to offer flexibility can significantly bolster their competitive advantage. It not only positions these businesses as attractive places to work but also enriches their operational capabilities. The asynchronous culture fostered by flexibility allows for a continuity of service that extends beyond conventional office hours, offering clients and customers unparalleled responsiveness and engagement.

As we explore the advantages of a dynamic workforce, it becomes evident that flexibility is more than just a benefit—it is a strategic imperative. In this new era of work, businesses that adapt and embrace flexibility will not only excel in attracting and retaining talent but will also innovate their operations, setting new standards for success in their respective industries.

The rise of flexibility as a key factor in the modern workplace represents a fundamental shift in how we perceive and value work. It challenges traditional notions of productivity and rewards businesses that prioritize adaptability and employee well-being. As the business landscape continues to evolve, organizations that recognize the strategic importance of flexibility and effectively integrate it into their operations will be well-positioned to thrive in the face of future challenges and opportunities.


Avocat Group helps companies to develop and implement workplace strategies for competitive advantage. Is your firm struggling with workplace strategy, return to office, or flexible work? Or do you have it all figured out and both execs and staff are thrilled? I’d like to hear about your #FutureOfWork. Schedule a call with me here.