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More Workers Are Quitting Their Jobs for Flexibility

By Daniel B. Kline – Updated Mar 12, 2019 at 8:24AM

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A strong job market has emboldened employees to go after what they want. And what they want is to telecommute.

A strong job market makes it easier for workers to quit unsatisfying jobs. If you know it's not going to be too hard to find something better (or at least something different), it's easier to walk away from an unhappy work situation. Increasingly, the reason people aren't happy is that their job does not offer as much flexibility as they want.

In fact, the number of professionals who have left their jobs because they weren't flexible enough has more than doubled since 2014, according to FlexJobs. This reflects both the low unemployment rate and the changing nature of work. Workers understand that the tools exist for many jobs to be performed well remotely, at least part of the time. And they're unwilling to stay in situations that don't allow flexibility.

A man types in a laptop on a couch.

More workers want flexible work situation. Image source: Getty Images.

More workers demand flexibility

Technology has advanced our ability to perform many jobs remotely, without performance suffering, so companies don't sacrifice much by offering workers flexibility. The many telecommuting capabilities also makes it harder for employers to justify not offering flexible work arrangements. Plus, the strong employment market has emboldened workers to seek out work situations that meet their specific needs.

A 2014 FlexJobs survey showed that 13% of workers had quit a previous job because it lacked flexibility. That number more than doubled in the 2018 version of the same survey, which showed that 31% of workers said they had quit a job because it wasn't flexible. Further, 17% of survey respondents reported that they were looking for a more flexible job, while 13% said they had considered leaving an inflexible job but decided to stay.

The 3,000 survey respondents defined flexibility in different ways, but 80% said the ability to telecommute 100% of the time was something they were interested in. About 71% were interested in a flexible schedule, while 44% of respondents expressed the desire to have a non-traditional work schedule.

Get what you want

Before you quit your current job to seek the perfect flexibile position, evaluate your situation.

The job market may be strong, but is it strong in your field? Can you quit and expect to find something equal or better reasonably quickly? Are you willing to move cities or even states? Would you take a pay cut in order to have more flexibility?

If you like your company but you are really looking for more flexibility, start by talking with your employer. If it's easy for you to find another position, that may mean it will be challenging for your employer to replace you -- and your company might be willing to offer you more flexibility to keep you on board.

Some employers, however, are rooted in their ways and won't allow exceptions or change the rules. If that's the case, you should consider leaving, but do so in a way that benefits your career. You generally don't have to quit your job to put your feelers out and start searching for a better one. You might want to quit first, but consider whether looking while employed is a safer and more affordable option. The robustness of your emergency fund will also play into the decision of whether you can afford to leave your job before securing a new gig.

No matter how you approach your flexible job search, go find the situation that works best for you. Take a rational approach to finding the right situation, but in this market, know that what you want is probably out there.

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