There’s been a lot of talk about work-life balance lately. If you’re an employer, offering your employees the flexibility they need to manage the obligations of their personal lives alongside their professional lives can make all the difference when it comes to job satisfaction, happiness and loyalty to the company. But flexible working — including working from home — can help your company’s bottom line, too.
Employees who are able to work flexibly are more productive and more likely to stay in their positions. That means you’ll earn more money when you offer your employees flex working options, and you’ll save money, too, in the form of reduced hiring expenses and other costs associated with turnover. At the end of the day, it’s really the results you’re getting from your employees that matter — not how much time they physically spend in the office or which specific times of day they work.
A Stanford University study involving employees of the Chinese travel website Ctrip found that, when call center employees were allowed to work entirely from home over a period of nine months, productivity improved by 13.5 percent on average. That’s almost an entire extra day of work per week. Not only that, but the researchers found that the turnover rate among the home workers dropped by half, and sick days plummeted too. Furthermore, Ctrip saved an average of $1,900 per employee over the course of the nine-month study period, due to decreased demand for furniture, supplies and office space.
You’d think that working from home would harm productivity — in fact, the Stanford researchers went into this study expecting to see reduced productivity from the home workers. They were astonished at the results. How is it possible that home workers could be more productive than their peers in the office? The researchers surmise that home workers have fewer distractions, since they’re not surrounded by their co-workers all day. With no commute and no need to run errands during lunch, home workers start earlier and work longer hours with fewer, shorter breaks.
Another study from the University of Minnesota involved 775 employees at Best Buy’s Minnesota headquarters. Rather than having these employees work from home, the researchers had them begin working under a “results-only work environment,” or ROWE. Under this system, emphasis is placed on the quality of the results employees produce, and not on the number of hours they put in or when and where they do their work. Implementing ROWE at the Best Buy headquarters slashed employee turnover by 45 percent. The system even helped reduce stress and ease unhappiness among employees struggling with family-related stress or job insecurity, since it helped them achieve a greater work-life balance.
Flex work benefits remain scarce on the ground among many companies, who don’t yet realize that offering more scheduling flexibility can benefit both employer and employee. But the best companies are already offering scheduling flexibility, and it’s helping them attract the best candidates. Great candidates want to be able to successfully balance their work and personal lives, and they know they can find a company that will respect their needs. Besides, many of the best candidates have personal obligations that don’t allow them to work a traditional nine-to-five schedule.
Working parents, for example, may be very well-educated and motivated professionals, but the demands of raising a family mean that they need an employer who can bring flex scheduling to the table. By allowing telecommuting, your company can cast a wider net, drawing in talented candidates who may work too far away to commute to the office every day for a traditional work schedule.
Older workers, too, appreciate flex scheduling that can help them transition into retirement — and even enable them to work part-time in retirement. As the baby boomers approach retirement in a difficult economy, many of them are realizing they’ll need to work at least part-time to make ends meet through their golden years, but they can’t meet the demands of a traditional work schedule either. Companies like Atlantic Health System are accommodating the needs of older employees by implementing flex scheduling plans that allow workers who are retired or approaching retirement to work a part-time schedule during hours that make sense to them.
Flexible scheduling and results-only work environments may very well become the new normal as more workers and employers look for ways to juggle the often conflicting demands of our complicated modern lives. The advent of flex working and telecommuting solutions is a good thing for employers, who can look forward to getting much more out of their happier, more dedicated employees. If your company hasn’t yet implemented a plan to allow flexible scheduling, it’s time to consider it.Back to blog list