According to recent research by The Conference Board, CEOs across the globe currently rank failure to attract and retain top talent as their primary concern. In this competitive landscape where skilled talent is in high demand, many candidates are in a position to negotiate alternative work arrangements. As a result, a growing number of companies are taking advantage of technological advancements to offer non-traditional work arrangements to attract and motivate high performers.

advantages of non-traditional work arrangements

Alternative work arrangements include full- and part-time telecommuting, flexible schedules, part-time schedules and freelance work arrangements. When implemented effectively, they offer organizations a number of distinct benefits:

  • Organizations can attract more talent. The 2017 Flexjobs Annual Survey found that 81 percent of respondents wanted to telecommute all of the time, 70 percent wanted a flexible schedule, 46 percent wanted to telecommute some of the time and 46 percent wanted a part-time schedule. Clearly, talent preferences are overwhelmingly shifting in favor of non-traditional work arrangements.

  • Companies can source from a wider talent base. Because talent is more interested in telecommuting, companies have the ability to unlock geographical constraints. They can now source talent from different cities, different regions and even different countries. In addition, by considering candidates who want part-time or flexible schedules, as well as freelance workers, they have access to talent who can’t or don’t want to work fulltime, for example people who are raising a family or workers who prefer to work on a project basis.

  • Overhead costs are significantly reduced thanks to telecommuting. The costs of real estate, equipment, electricity, and other expenses associated with maintaining office locations are much lower.

  • Employee remuneration may be reduced. In some instances, telecommuting employees have proven willing to work during the hours they’d otherwise be commuting. In addition, some surveys have found that workers would be willing to forego certain benefits or a raise in exchange for telecommuting or flexible work arrangements.

  • Employee satisfaction and motivation increases. Employees are happier, which can make them more engaged and productive.

realizing the full potential of unlocking talent

However, establishing alternative work arrangements to attract skilled talent is easier said than done. In order to do so, organizations need to pay attention to several key areas.
When it comes to telecommuting, it’s critical to have a good understanding of the complexities of remote work. Managing remote employees, independent contractors and even entire virtual teams requires different competencies and a different approach. Moreover, full time remote employees need clear career paths, regardless of where they’re located. That means that companies need an efficient performance evaluation system, as well an effective way to provide career guidance.

Telecommuting also requires a robust technology platform; one that offers all the capabilities required for operations, as well as seamless remote access and the ability for employees to collaborate in a virtual space. It is also critical that the platform is secure in order to protect data from external threats such as cyber criminals, as well as internal threats such as employee fraud. To achieve this, companies need advanced cybersecurity software; plus, they need to establish and enforce security policies throughout the company.

Since telecommuting and freelance work enable the sourcing and engagement of talent across multiple geographies, it’s important for companies to know where to find the talent they need. There are multiple ways to go about finding the right talent. LinkedIn offers the largest database of professionals worldwide, so it can be a good place to start, especially when it comes to looking for full time employees. There are also several global staffing companies that have wide branch networks that can help find the right talent with the right skills. This can be key in helping companies navigate different legislations than their own. 

Additionally, there’s a growing number of cloud-based platforms that connect freelancers to employers for gig work. Some of the most well-known include UpWork and WeWork, which both feature a range of skills areas, but there are also specialized platforms that focus only on specific areas such as IT, design, project management and writing.

Last, but certainly not least, companies need to establish a system of best practices and benchmarks to ensure program effectiveness. This is necessary for all alternative work arrangements, as companies need to be able to assess their programs against meaningful KPIs in order to improve efficiency, ensure compliance, reduce costs, increase engagement and improve talent quality.


It’s important to note that while a growing number of organizations are allowing alternative work arrangements, few have programs that are truly successful. However, companies that take the time to create an effective framework for non-traditional work arrangements can greatly enhance their chances of making their programs successful — and ultimately, attracting the top talent they need.

If you want to know more about the HR trends driving change in 2018, request our annual trends report here.