How Workshifting Is Changing the Way We Work

Did you go into the office this past Labor Day weekend? Did you work this past Labor Day weekend? If your answer to the first question is “no” but you answered “yes” to the second,” you and your business are part of the growing trend toward workshifting.

Defined by the most recent iPass Mobile Workforce Report as “the ability to work when and where we want to,” workshifting is changing the way work gets done. The good news is, for the most part, workshifting is having positive effects on both employees and the companies they work for. Here’s a closer look at some of what the iPass survey of employees at more than 1,100 businesses worldwide discovered. If your small business doesn’t yet encourage workshifting, the results might change your mind.

mobile employee

When and where employees work is changing thanks to mobile devices. Some 38 percent of those surveyed say they regularly work in the morning before their commute, 25 percent work during their commute, and 22 percent work on the way home—every day.

Work doesn’t stop once the employees get home. About 33 percent work again when they get home, 26 percent work after dinner and 19 percent work after putting their children to bed. In fact, nearly half (49 percent) of those surveyed admit that when they can’t sleep, they sometimes work in the middle of the night. (I can relate.)

While this much work might seem like overkill, the iPass study found that on the contrary, employees are thriving because of the flexibility workshifting allows. Three-fourths say they work more hours because of the increased flexibility. More than half (55 percent) work at least 10 or more additional hours each week, and 12 percent work 20 or more additional hours. Besides putting in more time, employees say having flexible schedules make them either “substantially” (54 percent) or “marginally” (24 percent) more productive.

Flexibility has benefits outside the office as well. About two-thirds (64 percent) of respondents say workshifting allows them to better balance work with personal commitments, and 51 percent feel more relaxed as a result. Highlighting the growing focus on balance, 68 percent say  they sometimes disconnect from technology altogether—a substantial increase from 47 percent who said so last year.

How widespread is workshifting? iPass found that 95 percent of employers either encouraged or tolerated it (with the percentage about evenly split). For employees, workshifting has become the norm. And, despite the nearly universal existence of some degree of workshifting, 40 percent of employees would like an even more flexible work environment.

If they don’t get enough flexibility at work, 33 percent of employees claim they would look for a new job, 57 percent would be less satisfied with the jobs they have, and 45 percent would feel less productive.

What’s the lesson for your business? “Workshifting has now become a part of the expectation of nearly all white-collar employees,” the report notes. “If these workers don’t get the freedom they feel they are entitled to, they will seek out those companies [that] do allow them the freedom to work when, where and how they choose.”

There’s much more to ponder in the iPass report, including recommendations for enabling workshifting and details about which tools and devices are most useful for flexibility.


Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.

9 Reactions
  1. I totally agree with your article, Rieva, It is good to read that work shifting is changing for the good of companies and employees. Flexibility is nice to have because we do have a personal life outside of work and sometimes the family outside of work needs to come first and flexibility allows that. Great article!

  2. Great article Rieva. As someone who retired and came back to start another company, I have seen a stunning change in the way we work. Technology has enabled us to work from the office, home, a coffee shop, and even the beach. We can work with our smart phones, laptops, I Pads, etc. just as easily as we worked from our cubicles 15 years ago. To top it off, we are probable much more productive today than ever before. Thanks

  3. Being self-employed I am able to work wherever I have my laptop and a good internet connection. While this has obvious perks, you’re right in that I find myself putting in a little work here and there at any given time of day. A double-edged sword for sure.

  4. Workshifting is definitely the trend to take upon especially for small business owners to gain employee loyalty and productivity. More flexibility would allow employees do get work done and meet deadlines, without having to lack behind by taking short leaves. Either way, it is a win-win situation for the employers and the employees. Thank you for sharing.

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