How Flexible Are You?

I just came across an interesting post at iemployee’s Punch to Paycheck blog. Seems the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) recently released the results of a poll of 511 HR professionals, and it turns out that around 90% of them agree that formal flexible work arrangements are beneficial for employee morale… but nearly a third of them said business needs hampered their ability to offer such programs.

As the Punch to Paycheck post points out, the idea of everyone arriving and departing at the same time every day arose back in the days of factory labor. You need everyone who works on the assembly line in place when the starting whistle blows or the line can’t run. And when the end of the shift comes, you don’t want to be paying somebody for just standing around.

Even today, there are jobs that require people to come in to a set location at a set time. A lot of businesses still make products using the traditional assembly line. If you’re running a retail establishment, whoever is scheduled to open the store needs to be there, or the store won’t open. If you run a restaurant, you need the kitchen staff to show up on time or you’re going to have a lot of diners unhappy over how long they have to wait for their meals. For that matter, telecommuting isn’t really an option for the wait staff, either.

On the other hand, in a lot of work environments, the reasons for having everyone show up at a single set time — or even show up on-site at all — aren’t necessarily so clear.

For instance, of the HR professionals surveyed, 95% of them said they believe employee productivity was the same or higher for telecommuting employees than for those on-site… and 46% of them reported a decrease in absenteeism.

And just because employees aren’t working on-site doesn’t mean you can’t keep track of them. With modern time and attendance systems, employees can clock in and out over the web, or using a telephone. (So much for that excuse.)

Flexible work arrangements (part time work, telecommuting, flex time, etc.) have been proven to increase employee retention and satisfaction without hurting productivity. While they aren’t suitable for every employee in every work situation, offering flexibility whenever possible can be good for your business.

So, do you offer any sorts of flexible work arrangements? What are they? If not, why not?


  1. Joyce Fredo says:

    We are Flexible Resources have touted the benefits of telecommuting and other types of flexible work arrangements for 22 years. We have been successful is establishing telecommuting arrangements only when the business understands the bottom-line benefits — which mean much higher productivity, better morale, less overhead because they don’t need to expand for new hires, and great retention benefits. Our book, “The End of Work As We Know It.” describes how the Industrial Revolution model of the workplace — where everyone shows up at the same place at the same time — is outmoded for our technology-driven 24/7 workplace that works best when it works virtually — that is, to suit the needs of the business and the clients.

  2. Good point! Of course, telecommuting won’t work for every type of employee and every kind of business. Some jobs simply can’t be done remotely, and some employees aren’t happy without the interpersonal interaction they find in the office setting. But for those situations where it is appropriate, the business and the employee can each see substantial benefits.

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