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Flexible hours create productive, satisfied workers

Rules of Thumb Nine to five isn't the only way to have your employees make a living.

A two-year study of 1,353 employers by the Boston College Center for Work & Family concludes that increasing workplace flexibility in most cases "is a win-win situation for both companies and the individuals they employ."

Both workers and managers agree in the survey that increased workplace flexibility had a positive impact on work quality, productivity and retention.

The study looked at three types of work flexibility:

  • Traditional flextime, in which the employee has a say over when the work day starts, but the day includes certain core hours determined by the manager;
  • Daily flextime, which lets workers vary their work hours on a daily basis; and
  • Telecommuting, in which an employee's work schedule includes off-site work, usually performed from home.

Because the pace of everyday life is quickening, daily flexibility holds the most promise, the study concludes. When employees have a say in which hours they work -- and which they can use to run to the dry cleaners or pick up children from school -- employers gain more productive and satisfied workers who are less likely to leave.

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Telecommuting was the most problematic of the types of workplace flexibility. The survey found a widespread belief among managers that the work-at-home arrangement has a negative impact on the employee-supervisor relationship. The workers also were wary of telecommuting. They were more likely to feel that they are not viewed as committed to their jobs, and suspect they are losing out on challenging assignments.

Regardless of the type of workplace flexibility, the study says, it's important that companies address head-on the issues of communication, equity and clarity of objectives that are raised by a more open policy toward work hours.

Have you considered flexible work hours or telecommuting at your business?

Flextime a hit with managers and workers

-- Posted: Jan. 24, 2001


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