More Companies Appreciate Flexible Work Arrangements in 2009

The advantages of offering flexibility in work arrangements are attracting more corporate attention. i4cp's recent study found that a full 84% of companies overall believe that flexible work arrangements in their organization boosts employee morale. That figure is up from 76% in a similar 2008 study conducted by i4cp. Correspondingly, the 2009 study showed that 78% of polled companies say flexwork options bolster retention rates, up from 64% the previous year.

According to the most recent study results, "flextime" (flexible start/end times) is the most-used flexwork option, with 76% of companies overall selecting it as their top option. Working from home was the second-most favored, at 59% overall (that figure jumps to 70% in companies with more than 10,000 employees), followed by part-time work, pointed to by 56% of organizations.

So, who is most likely to request a flexible work arrangement? Employees in professional roles top the list at 85%, followed by those in administrative roles (60%). In general, younger employees - 29% (41% in large companies) - are more likely to request the benefit, and more females (35%) than males (6%) tend to make such requests.

The most common rationales cited for offering flexible work arrangements by 60% of the overall respondents (and 69% of large companies) were that the employees' "job doesn't require presence in the office," followed by 60% who said long commutes were a reason, and 47% of respondents cited offering flexible arrangements for employees returning from maternity leave.

Keeping tabs on flexible work arrangements is also a priority. Sixty-nine percent of polled companies use established deadlines to measure productivity in a flexible work situation, while 66% keep an eye on project completion and 39% rely on periodic status reports.

With today's added focus on flexwork options, however, come additional concerns. 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.

Also, the current economic situation appears to have limited bearing on flexwork programs. Sixty percent of all companies polled said the economy has had no effect on their programs, and 19% related they have increased flexible work options. Just 8% have reduced options in their companies.
Erik Samdahl
Erik is the head of marketing at i4cp, and has nearly 20 years in the market research and human capital research industry.