Is Work Flexibility a Bittersweet Benefit?

Some respondents to Convene’s 2022 Salary Survey said the increases in time saved by working remotely are being absorbed by the pandemic-era demands of the job.

Author: Barbara Palmer       

woman on couch using computer working from home

For the majority of respondents to the latest Salary Survey, working from home is a huge plus. But some said they find that it results in even longer work hours.

Work flexibility has increased as a result of the pandemic — 58 percent of employees can now work remotely some or all of the time, according to the “American Opportunity Survey,” published in June by McKinsey and Company. That figure is dramatically higher for meeting professionals who responded to the 2022 Convene Salary Survey: 85 percent said their employer’s work policy allows them to work remotely at least part of the time.

For the vast majority of Convene’s survey respondents, it’s a huge plus. Flexibility was the word that came up most often, by a large margin, in planners’ comments about what they liked and disliked about their jobs, what they would most like to change, and what had changed for them during the pandemic.

Some respondents noted that being able to work remotely had shaved hours from their days by eliminating “brutal” commutes or hours at the office. Some also linked the ability to work remotely with increased autonomy and with feeling more trusted and valued by their employers. “We have the flexibility to work from home when we need to,” wrote one respondent when asked about what had changed post-pandemic. “We were able to prove the value of our role beyond just ‘picking menus’ and are seen as an essential tool for growing the business.”

But it’s a bittersweet gain. As we considered the other trends in the data, flexibility started looking as much like a pressure valve as a job benefit. Nearly eight out of 10 respondents said that their workloads had increased, compared with 67 percent who said their workloads had gone up in 2020. Even with the ability to work remotely, work-life balance is still an issue for many. Respondents reported high levels of frustrations with the lack of support staff, both with their organizations and those with which they do business.

“It was already a stressful career,” wrote one survey respondent. “And now it’s twice as tough.”

Barbara Palmer is deputy editor at Convene.

Salary Survey 2022

The 2022 Salary Survey, conducted in late July with nearly 350 planners participating, is Convene’s September issue cover and CMP Series story. Find links to all the articles from the story package below.