According to a recent study by the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), the use of flexible working arrangements, as well as the view of them as morale boosters, is on the rise. From the article:
"It's clear that, increasingly, employers are offering alternative work arrangements - especially flexible scheduling and the option to telecommute - to their employees," said Lorrie Lykins, i4cp's managing editor. "It's looked at more often these days as a strategy that can meet several needs, including rewarding workers when pay raises are not an option, easing stress on employees, and lowering overhead in some cases."
For some employees this is an invaluable benefit that not only boosts morale but also increases loyalty. One of the other real benefits of flexibility from a company standpoint can be increased productivity. We don’t all hit our peak productivity levels at the same time of day, so when it’s feasible for work hours to be flexible, it becomes possible to have employees at work when they’re at their personal best.
But there are drawbacks to allowing flexibility in working arrangements. Some of these are also listed in the article about the study.
When asked how flexible work options might be a detriment to the organization, almost two-thirds (64%) of the 2009 study respondents said that flexwork arrangements tend to frustrate workers who cannot utilize the benefit, compared to 36% a year ago, and 42% of 2009 respondents reported that the option is frustrating to managers, while just 20% felt so in 2008.
Not every position or every person is well suited for flexible working arrangements. Some people just work better in their regular work setting during regular work hours. Some jobs have to be filled at certain times such as retail clerks or health care workers. So there is the real possibility of hurting employee morale if only some of the staff can have the benefit of the flexibility.
Managing workers with flexible working arrangements can also be more challenging than managing workers in a traditional setting. Sometimes managers take the easy way out and manage based on the fact that they see employees working, without bothering to measure results. This type of management is obviously not really an option if an employee is working a different schedule or at a different location than their supervisor. It can be more work to actually measure results, and it can also be outside of the comfort zone of some supervisors. (Though I’d argue figuring this out would actually help the business in the long-run.)
So like most everything in life, there is both good and bad in flexible working arrangements, and every company has to decide what will work for them including how and if flexible working arrangements fit into their total rewards package. Although if the federal government passes the Working Families Flexibility Act, that choice may be taken away, and every business will have to figure out how to make it work for them. For a good synopsis of this act, check out this article at HR Morning. So now be the time to start looking at the advantages and figuring out how to work around the disadvantages of flexible work.
Darcy Dees works as the Compensation Manager for Rock Bottom Restaurants, Inc., headquartered in Louisville, CO. She has been working in Compensation for over 5 years now and recently attained her Certified Compensation Professional (CCP) designation. She spends what little free time she has hiking and reading.