Study: Profits Rise with Flexible Work

By Aliah D. Wright Feb 16, 2016
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More than half of companies that allow their employees to telecommute or vary their work schedules have seen profits increase, according to a recent study from Vodafone, a British-based global telecommunications company. Vodafone’s Flexible: Friend or Foe study also revealed that 75 percent of the 8,000 companies surveyed worldwide have introduced policies that allow their employees to either use technology to work remotely or vary their hours for increased flexibility.

It’s a trend that’s not going to disappear.

“Millennials are going to be 75 percent of the workforce in five years, and they have come out loud and clear saying that they want jobs that offer more flexibility, such as remote options and flexible schedules,” FlexJobs CEO and founder Sara Sutton Fell said in a recent interview with HubCulture.com.

“I think there’s a real shift in what’s happening in the workplace,” she added. “There is a real change in the definition of what work means, and companies are really having to look at how to integrate more flexibility into the workplace. Job seekers are demanding it.”

According to the Mobile Work Exchange’s most recent Mobility Progress Report, 88 percent of HR managers said they have had an employee quit because of lack of telework opportunities. And 54 percent of HR managers say they “occasionally miss out on the best job candidate because they cannot meet the candidates’ telework requirements.” The exchange is a Virginia-based public-private partnership focused on demonstrating the value of mobility and telework.

“Companies that embrace workplace flexibility can source the very best talent, regardless of geographic location, when they hire people to work remotely from home,” said Brie Weiler Reynolds, director of online content at FlexJobs, in an interview with SHRM Online. She said it’s important to have formal workplace flexibility programs because “ ‘casual flex’ in an undefined system can pit workers against each other and often be misaligned with overall company goals. Measurable, trackable and goal-oriented workplace flexibility that supports companies’ overarching business plans can reduce costs, increase retention, and boost productivity and the bottom line.”

Good for Business

Vodafone says 58 percent of U.S. companies that have adopted flexible work policies have seen their profits rise since implementation.

That’s not all:

  • 61 percent of global respondents to Vodafone’s study said their companies’ profits increased. 
  • 83 percent of global respondents reported an improvement in productivity.
  • 58 percent said they believe that flexible work policies have had a positive impact on their organizations’ reputations.
Flexibility also saves organizations money. According to the Mobile Work Exchange, if “all federal employees could telework in the event of a disaster, the average agency could save $60 million in just one day.”

In a news release, Vodafone Americas President Chuck Pol said: “At the core of this trend are the new technologies that are reshaping every sector, from high-speed mobile data networks and fixed-line broadband to the latest collaborative cloud services and videoconferencing capabilities.

“These findings prove we have entered an era where work is what you do, not where you go.”

Of the 10 countries represented in the study, the United States was the leading adopter of flexible work policies, with 82 percent of responding organizations stating that they have implemented such programs.

The study revealed several benefits for doing so:

  • 86 percent of U.S. companies and 83 percent of global companies that have implemented flexible work policies have seen an increase in employee productivity.
  • 77 percent of U.S. organizations say morale has risen.
  • 61 percent of U.S. organizations say teamwork has improved.
  • 60 percent of employees in the U.S. use flexible work options to achieve better work/life balance.   
Aliah D. Wright is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Related SHRM Article:

Five Companies That Get Workflex Right, HR Magazine, October 2015

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