A shortage of IT talent and broader developments like the Great Resignation have catalyzed demands by IT workers for flexibility, autonomy, and purpose in the workplace.

But a lack of recruiting appeal to the labor market is only the most obvious problem. Maintaining inflexibility in a modern digital business environment accumulates operational inefficiencies. Left unaddressed, these can inflict severe damage to productivity, growth, and business value in the short and long term.

Here are 4 significant costs to inflexible work arrangements that pose major risks to your business over time.

Short-Term Inefficiencies of Inflexible Working Arrangements

The most immediate problems manifest as short-term inefficiencies that sap productivity at the operational and run task level.


Full office occupancy favors numbers over efficiency

Maximizing office headcount doesn’t make the most of staffing and space. It raises overheads like rent, utilities, and office supplies. With no capacity to spare, cost optimization becomes challenging.

Future optimization efforts with office layouts also become a problem. At total capacity, it’s hard to adopt improvements – like dedicating spaces to specialized tasks – without disrupting daily operations.

These difficulties stem from overheads being fixed in place. The costs become non-negotiable, reducing operational agility and inhibiting innovation.

One remarkable benefit of a flexible work model is reducing these overheads by introducing spare capacity for growth. A hybrid, digitally-connected workforce spreads costs wide, easing the burden on premises. This frees up physical space for innovation, promoting various working styles and improving operational efficiency.


Morale takes a hit, with long-term consequences

The pandemic has demonstrated that most office work can be conducted remotely. Insisting on rigid structures can make employees feel ignored. Don’t make the mistake of thinking of this as a secondary concern – it is actually the most dangerous short-term inefficiency!

When employees are denied arrangements they know employers can give, the situation is ripe for fostering discontent and demotivation. Damaged trust with management hurts collaboration and productivity, potentially spiraling into long-term concerns that are significantly harder to deal with.

Conversely, businesses receptive to change can expect a morale boost. Giving employees the flexibility and autonomy to contribute wherever they are builds organic relationships founded on trust. Such a move incentivizes productivity and gives employees a sense of purpose.

Long-Term Inefficiencies of Inflexible Working Arrangements

Unaddressed short-term inefficiencies develop into long-term ones that directly affect strategic function and growth.


Company culture can stagnate

Inflexible arrangements struggle with effective oversight, keeping performers from rewards and stragglers from assistance. Leaders waste time micromanaging tasks and not assigning responsibilities. There are fewer opportunities for advancement and less time for high-value work. What results is an order-taker culture that damages the strategic function and value creation.

By contrast, flexible workplaces use distance to connect employees better. Teams learn to collaborate independently to get things done. Digitally-enabled oversight helps managers identify and reward top performers based on outcomes, not just hours. This contributes to a strong workplace culture rooted in productivity.

Flexible work arrangements can also leverage the office to promote company culture. Reserving spaces for strategic events like quarterly check-ins and team-building exercises can transform the office from a dreaded inconvenience to a venue for special occasions.


Headcount problems hurt scalability and growth

Clinging to full occupancy cuts companies off from an increasingly connected global labor market. Limiting available talent solutions can affect efficiency and introduce delays if suitable local candidates can’t be found. Distance again becomes an advantage for flexible workplaces, while traditional work arrangements miss out.

Maximizing headcount in traditional office configurations also hurts scalability, as businesses cannot hire talent when needed. Instead, spare capacity must first be cleared – a lengthy process that hinders scalability and agility. Growth becomes reliant on clearing space – by which time opportunities may have passed.


The cost of failing to embrace flexibility for an organization triggers a cycle of deterioration that is hard to stop. Damaged morale and employee demotivation breed a litany of operational inefficiencies. Limited resources discourage innovation, creating more inefficiencies that waste more resources. Adopting flexible working arrangements is an effective way to answer employee demands and optimize processes simultaneously, arresting the cycle before it starts.

The process of implementing such work arrangements differs from business to business. Determining variables and behaviors that need changing – as well as a roadmap to change them gradually and cohesively – is complex and time-consuming. Hiring specialists to oversee the process can ensure efforts are efficient and effective.

A flexible working setup can help you take advantage of increasingly volatile digital business environments. If you want to learn more about how it can best benefit you, our consultants will be happy to help.



Our team is a blend of high-quality talent from all levels who can tackle your most complex issues with a fresh approach. With a globally connected network of 4,000 employees, Wavestone is designed to help you get results. All our consultants thrive on complex challenges, enjoy blazing new trails, and are committed to your organization’s success.

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