By Bob Nelson

The majority of employees cite increased flexibility in employee work schedules as a top motivator. Furthermore, depending upon the type of work, a flexible schedule can also increase the efficiency of getting the work done.

Technology has opened up new possibilities for how employees work. Gone are the days when communication was limited to fax and phone lines or face-to-face meetings. These days, some businesses operate entirely on a virtual platform with employees scattered throughout the country or world. Although not every company is able to operate this way, a large percentage of jobs can be done outside the traditional 9 to 5 office schedule. As a result, in recent years, many companies have experimented with flexible schedules or telecommuting options. Consider these statistics:

  • Forty percent of current workers work remotely.

  • Eighty-six percent of employees today report that they wish they had more time to spend with their families.

  • In the last five years, nearly 30 percent of workers have voluntarily made career changes that resulted in a salary reduction in an effort to lead a more balanced life.

  • Almost 50 percent of employees value the option of flexible or work- from-home hours.

  • Fifty-four percent of employees appreciate the option to leave work early to tend to family or child issues.

  • A large percentage of workers would take a reduction in pay if doing so allowed them to have more time for personal interests or to spend more time with family.

Having a sense of balance between the personal and professional parts of their lives is very important to today’s employees. Your company can help employees achieve greater flexibility and greater balance by implementing policies that promote life outside of the workplace. Here are some suggestions:

  • Letting employees work alternate hours (arriving early and leaving early or vice versa)

  • Offering four-day work weeks, in which longer hours are worked on fewer days

  • Letting employees telecommute and work from remote locations

  • Offering job-sharing options, where two or more employees split a job

  • Allowing an employee to leave work early or to take time off to compensate for extra hours worked

Many companies have found that offering employees the options of working a flexible schedule or telecommuting increases morale and productivity. For some employees, the attraction is less time spent each week in a car and savings on gas or mileage. Others may enjoy reducing childcare expenses or simply having the opportunity to spend more time with their children. Whatever the motivation, employees appreciate the option of being able to have some control over their own schedules and, as a result, feel as though the company has their best interests in mind.