Should companies be more accommodating about flexible work schedules or is being in the office necessary for teamwork and productivity?
As more organizations choose flexibility for their workers, other major companies – such as Yahoo, Best Buy and Bank of America – are doing away with such programs in favor of “face time” rather than flextime.
So which is better?
According to a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, flexible work arrangements are not only becoming the norm at companies (a survey revealed 81% of high-performing employees reported that they were currently working at a firm that offers flexible work arrangements of some kind), but flextime is a necessary component if companies want to attract the best talent pool – especially when it comes to women workers.
The graph below shows the impact of flexible working arrangements (FWAs) on women and their career aspirations. As you can see in the second bar graph, women are more likely to “downsize” their career goals at companies that do not offer such arrangements.
Like it or not, even in 2013, most working women still manage the majority of household duties, including childcare. Without flexible options at work – such as telecommuting, job sharing or compressed workweeks – many simply cannot support the competing demands on their time.
This should be a wake-up call for companies when it comes to examining engagement strategies. As Harvard Business Review puts it: “Most competitors already offer flexible working arrangements; there are negative consequences for those that don’t.” For instance, the Gallup Organization in their 2013 State of the American Workplace report states that employees who are allowed to work remotely work on average 4 hours more per week than their office-bound peers and are slightly more engaged (32% vs. 28%).
In Randstad’s recent Engagement Study, women workers shared their input about workplace flexibility and what it means to their careers. Among the findings:
- Women consistently rank “being flexible or accommodating in terms of hours or working arrangements” as the top engagement method for companies”
- Flexibility and adaptability – such as alternative work arrangements -- is consistently ranked as the most important skill for women to grow their careers, followed by training and development and collaboration and teamwork.
- 82 percent of women said they would consider whether a company offers flexible/telecommuting work arrangements before taking a job
- Flexible schedules is among the top three factors with the greatest impact on women in the workplace, along with pay equality and women in leadership positions
In an age where technology has dramatically changed the way companies do business, it’s time for organizations to take a closer look at flexible work arrangements and move toward making it a key offering to employees. The question should be less, “How can our employees adjust their lives to fit our organization?” but more, “What should our company be doing to fit into the lives of our employees?”