The Changing American Office? Flex Hours, Telecommuting, and more
The American office is beginning to change – slowly. More offices are allowing employees to work from home, take leaves of absence and maintain unconventional work schedules.
Why Flex Time is so Stellar
A recent study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management found that only approximately half of employers offer flextime. It’s a shame that more businesses don’t offer flexible work schedules, because a recent report by Corporate Voices for Working Families found that companies that offer flexible work have reaped many benefits from adopting the practice. A CBS article titled, “The Benefits of Flextime to Employers,” by Laurie Tarkan, reported the following benefits companies garner when they offer employees flex schedules:
1. The ability to balance work and home life can make people want to keep working at a company. “About 80 percent of Accenture employees said that their ability to manage work and home life affects their career choices and their desire to stay at the company,” Tarkan reported. “Of respondents to AstraZeneca's flexibility survey, 80 percent of women said that flexibility was very important in their decision to stay at the company as did 61 percent of men. Another 23 percent of men and women said that it was somewhat important.”
2. Flexibility is a great, inexpensive way for companies to reward employees. Flex schedules also provide employees with a greater sense of work-life balance.
3. Workers who get to have flexible schedules tend to be happier and healthier. “Employees at Bristol-Myers Squibb who use flexible work arrangements scored, on average, 30 percent lower in stress and burnout than those without flexibility,” Tarkan reported.
4. An article from US News titled, “Does Telecommuting Make Women More Ambitious?,” by Danielle Kurtzleben reported that flexwork makes women feel more ambitious at the office.
The survey, from Catalyst, written by Anna Beninger, senior associate in research at Catalyst, found that 83 percent of women who had a flexible work agreement aspired to become a senior executive or get a CEO-level position. Only 54 percent of women who had traditional work schedules were reported to say the same thing.
While flex work is, admittedly, awesome, many companies have yet to extend these schedule options to all (if any) employees.
Who really gets to work a flex schedule?
A Time article titled, “Behind the Hype: The Myth of Flexible Work Hours,” by Dan Kadlec, reported that a study conducted by Stephen Sweet, an organizational studies expert at the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College, found that corporations inflate information regarding which of their employees get to partake in flex work. “Companies often claim to offer the benefit even though it is available to only a small portion of their workforce,” said Kadlec.
According to Kadlec, Sweet examined three flexible work options. The researcher found that 58 percent of companies say they offer employees a “leave of absence,” but only 16 percent make this leave (also known as “pause work”) available to more than half of their workers. Seventy-eight percent of companies claim to offer workers a part-time option. Only 16 percent make these types of reduced work schedules available to at least half their workers, though. And almost all companies (94 percent) said they allowed their employees to work off site. Only 40 percent, however, offered telecommuting work to at least half of their personnel.
In general, workers who are considered “highly skilled” (professionals who practice law, medicine, technology, and academia) are able to partake in flex work, while low-skilled workers are not.