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Employers more flexible on telecommuting

Originally posted April 30, 2014 by Dan Cook on www.benefitspro.com

Are company executives all taking yoga? How else to explain the increased flexibility showing up in the workplace?

A study from the Society for Human Resource Management and Families and Work Institute — the 2014 National Study of Employers — indicates that corporate policies about how, when and where people work is loosening up in a number of ways.

The massive study contains considerable detail on trends in the workplace, comparing what’s happening today to what was going on in 2008. And, in just the space of six years, significant policy changes were identified.

For instance, telecommuting is becoming commonplace at two-thirds of workplaces. Earlier studies have demonstrated that telecommuting doesn’t diminish one’s productivity, and may even enhance it. Further, the courts are starting to endorse it as a reasonable accommodation for certain workers.

The SHRM/FWI data reveals that, while 50 percent of respondents in 2008 said they permitted at least some employees to occasionally work some paid hours remotely, in 2014, 67 percent offer the option to at least some workers occasionally.

In 2008, 23 percent of respondents said they offered telecommuting as a regular option; by this year, that percent had climbed to 38 percent.

Other signs of increased flexibility showed up in these comparisons of 2008 responses to 2014 input:

  • Workers have control over breaks (from 84 percent to 92 percent);
  • workers have control over overtime hours (from 27 percent to 45 percent);
  • workers can take time off during the workday when important needs arise (from 73 percent to 82 percent);
  • workers have control of starting and quitting times on daily basis: 38 percent vs. 41 percent.

In some areas, the study showed, employers have reduced flexibility. For instance:

  • sharing jobs fell from 29 percent in 2008 to 18 percent;
  • working part-year on an annual basis  dropped from 27 percent to 18 percent;
  • sabbaticals as a flex option fell from 38 percent to 28 percent;

career breaks for personal or family responsibilities dipped from 64 percent to 52 percent.