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October 5, 2022

INACO: Team of Romanian researchers creates work flexibility index to help companies and employees in an increasingly atypical labour market

Four Romanian researchers from the University of Economic Studies (ASE), the Youth Competitiveness Initiative think tank INACO and the institutes of the Romanian Academy have created a work flexibility index that is useful for companies and institutions that want to retain their employees, increase their performance and job satisfaction in an increasingly atypical labour market, INACO informs in a press release sent to AGERPRES on Tuesday.

“The authors of the study believe that flexibility at work will be the new normal after this health crisis, which caused the largest number of employees around the world to work remotely, working from home being considered normal today. The authors propose to companies and authorities alike, to redesign the management of human resources (HRM) in a new, sustainable, integrated approach, making labour relations flexible as a motivating factor for Romanian employees, after examining the impact of different types of flexibility – contractual, functional, working time and work spaces – on the employees’ satisfaction and performance at the workplace, from the private and public environment, using the results of a representative survey carried out by the Romanian researchers at national level,” reads the INACO release.

The study conducted by Adriana Davidescu, Simona Apostu, Andreea Paul and Ionut Cauneanu was recently published in the international journal: “Work Flexibility, Job Satisfaction, and Job Performance among Romanian Employees- Implications for Sustainable Human Resource Management” (Sustainability, MDPI, July 2020, https://res.mdpi.com/d_attachment/sustainability/sustainability-12-06086/article_deploy/sustainability-12-06086.pdf).

According to the document, just over a third of Romanian employees stated that they worked at the end of 2018 in a flexible manner. Instead, less than a third said they have a flexible work schedule, a flexible number of days a week, work in shifts or outside normal working hours.

The empirical results revealed an average level of flexibility among the interviewed Romanian employees. Only a third of them had high levels of flexibility, with particular emphasis on the role of two basic characteristics of sustainable HRM: employee development, and the mix of flexible working time and flexible working space, respectively.

“From the perspective of the work schedule, Romanian employees are more satisfied working the same number of hours per day, but more willing to be flexible in the number of days dedicated to work per week, and this behavior significantly influences their overall level of satisfaction. In recent years, more and more Romanian employers have allowed employees to work from home, to have a shorter Friday or a day off, and this is also reflected in the general level of satisfaction,” mentions the document.

The study proves the important role of both individual flexibility and the composite indicator of the employer’s flexibility on the general level of job satisfaction, paying special attention to the impact of new types of workspaces (flex office, co-working, total home office, partial home office) on work performance, job satisfaction, organizational performance, professional growth and development, social, professional relations and personal professional performance, as well as motivation at work. The empirical results revealed that these new types of workspaces are highly appreciated by employees, according to the study conducted by the Romanian researchers.

Partial work at home, the mix of work from home and work in a company’s office, was considered the optimal solution for increasing organizational performance, social and professional relationships, learning and personal development, increasing the general level of work motivation.

Workspace flexibility has also influenced the overall level of job satisfaction for Romanian employees, making it essential for employers to allow a combination of working at home and in company offices, as well as working in rented spaces in an environment, with more social relations, characterized by important community relations and sharing of resources (exchange of resources), which leads to an increase in the level of satisfaction and the degree of long-term retention, according to the cited study.

Another important result of the research highlighted the fact that employees from the Central and Bucharest-Ilfov regions, those from national companies or public institutions, as well as from companies operating in the sectors of wholesale trade, services or constructions, general managers or those who have a leadership position, but also higher education specialists have a higher level of labour flexibility.

“The study appears in a context in which many rightly ask themselves how the labor market will look like after the pandemic, if employees will continue to work from home when public health restrictions will no longer be necessary, if the ‘place’ for workers can change as well. Full-time remote work is not the only solution, attractive for both employers and employees, as a matter of fact, with significant benefits in a better work-life balance, increased productivity and lower costs for buildings and infrastructure,” the release specifies.

According to the study, the flexibility of labor relations, with all its atypical, creative, non-standardized forms, increases employee productivity, which could lead to a fundamental reassessment of the way people will work after the pandemic.

Therefore, if the challenge is to redesign the actual management of human resources to include the concept of sustainability, attention must be paid to the combination of employee development, flexibility of working time and workspace.

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