By Janet Civitelli
If you are an entrepreneur starting a company and you will be in a position to set workplace polices for your new organization, or you are an executive in an established organization and you have sufficient influence to shape human resource policies, I encourage you to create an organizational culture characterized by workplace flexibility, meaning that workers can decide when and where they work, to the extent that doing so is possible while still meeting business objectives. The most flexible workplaces focus on employee results rather than time spent in an office. Below are 10 reasons why I'm a strong proponent of workplace flexibility.
Globalization. In an increasingly global and virtual world, location is increasingly irrelevant. Says Martha Johnson of the General Services Administration, "Work is what you do, not where you are.”
Shift from Industrial Age to Information Age. If we all worked for Henry Ford manufacturing automobiles, it might make sense to track time spent on an assembly line. Since more and more employees are knowledge workers in the Information Age, preoccupation with face time makes no sense. "Vacation limits and face time requirements are a relic of the industrial age, says Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07092/773993-28.stm#ixzz1IQ1KOez8).
Productivity. In a National Science Foundation survey, the majority of managers who directly supervise teleworkers find those employees' productivity increases or remains the same while teleworking. Results oriented work environment (ROWE) teams report an average increase of 35% in productivity.
Influence of the Millennial Generation. Surveys indicate that members of the millennial generation seek a position and company that can offer "…a flexible work schedule, personal benefits and a sense of community within their team."
Reduced Work/Life Conflict. A study of IBM employees showed that employees can clock 57 hours per week before experiencing work/life conflict if their hours are flexible. If their hours are not flexible, they experience stress at 38 hours per week. That's a difference of 19 hours.
Retention of High Performing Employees. The #1 reason that employees used to leave jobs was dissatisfaction with their manager. The #1 reason now is lack of a flexible work schedule - turnover is very expensive, and many of your best employees are the ones most likely to leave if they can't get the work flexibility they need. ROWE teams also experience up to a 90% decrease in voluntary turnover rates.
Competitiveness. The number of organizations offering telework as an option is increasing every year. Do you really want to be left behind?
Employee Health. According to Gallup (http://www.gallup.com/poll/142142/Wellbeing-Lower-Among-Workers-Long-Commutes.aspx), long commutes cause a variety of adverse physical and emotional problems for workers. These problems include neck or back pain, high cholesterol, obesity, fatigue, and worry. Also, commuting to work causes exposure to unhealthy air pollutants. Scott Fruin, Assistant Professor of Environmental Health, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, says: “If you have otherwise healthy habits and don’t smoke, driving to work is probably the most unhealthy part of your day."
Telecommuting is Green. An estimated 1.35 billion gallons of gasoline could be conserved annually if every U.S. worker with the ability to telecommute did so 1.6 days per week, according to a report released by the American Electronics Association (http://articles.sfgate.com/2008-04-22/business/17146154_1_carbon-dioxide-telecommuting-advantage-telework).
Trust is a Smart Business Strategy. Organizations that offer flexible work schedules are characterized by trust of employees. Organizations that are rigid about work schedules are mistrustful of employees. Author Stephen Covey says that when trust goes down at a company, speed goes down and cost goes up. "High trust organizations outperform low trust organizations by 280%," according to Covey. Companies on the Forbes "100 Best Companies to Work For," according to Covey, "outperform the market by 416%."
Convinced yet? I hope that you are, because flexible workplaces are the future.