The Ups and Downs of Workplace Flexibility

Since 2005 the percentage of employers allowing (at least some) employees to work some of their regular paid hours at home on a regular basis has increased from 34 percent to 63 percent, according to the 2012 National Study of Employers.

In this Glass Hammer article, Day-to-Day Flexibility Increases, While Career Flex Drops, the cost of such a change is questioned. Although there is an increased amount of flexibility in the daily lives of employees, in regards to time and location, it seems harder to incorporate more long-term changes.

A lot of the flexibility comes down to the technology advances that we have seen in last couple of decades. Due to the fact that most work can now be done virtually, productivity isn’t harmed in this process.”On the other hand, companies do not seem to be acknowledging the importance of retaining long-term, experienced employees who may need to decrease their work-schedule for a more extended amount of time due to personal pulls,” the author writes.

Can we blame the economy for this? Yes and no. One side of the argument is that with so many people searching for jobs it is harder to justify extended leave, but is this enough of a reason to let people go since they’re working so hard with fewer resources to do double the work. That’s the important question that companies must figure out.

Does it have to be a trade-off? What do you think – have you noticed this trend?

Ritu Walia is myGreenlight’s Member Coordinator.

Comments (2)

  1. Hi Ali,

    Thank you so much for your comment! Yes definitely, it’s amazing to think about how working from home can really make such a difference in all other areas of life. I’ve noticed that my work productivity doesn’t decline but I’m able to improve other aspects of my life when I work from home. For me, that’s a win-win!

  2. I’ve had between 8 and 15 employees over the past few years, and have found they value flexibility even more than salary. We all work from home and it works wonderfully. Most of my team members are moms, so they love being able to be there for the school bus and other activities.
    Technology has finally leveled the playing field for women and it’s been a boon for my business, because I’m able to get the help I need and they are delighted at the lifestyle benefits of working at home. (Including decreased expenses from commuting, professional clothing, etc. and also even increased health benefits from the ability to schedule exercise and eat healthy).
    The key to making this work is to be in constant communication and make sure everyone knows each other’s hours. We have 3x weekly team calls that everyone is required to be on–even the financial people, so they can feel a part of what is going on and what our priorities are.
    I’ve been so pleased with their performance that we now also do not work Fridays. We tried it last summer and not only they but I loved it so much we decided to make it a year-round thing!
    The extended leave question is a trickier area I haven’t had to deal with yet, but I probably haven’t had to deal with it because we are already so flexible that if someone needs to slow down their schedule for a bit it’s really not an issue typically.

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