Richard Jordan says he is working "longer and odder hours" than ever before, and he couldn't be happier about it. Jordan, a project manager in the Open Work Services Group of Sun Microsystems, has been working from home for the last six years, ever since he and his wife made the decision to move out of San Francisco to raise their four children in the Sierra Foothills of California, 140 miles from Sun's office. Without the conventional boundary between in-office and out-of-office time, Jordan estimates that he works 10-20 percent longer hours than he used to, placing international calls at all hours of the day and night. But he also has the flexibility to spend time with his children, lending a hand with activities such as school pick-up and drop-off. Is the trade-off worth it?
"Absolutely," Jordan says, acknowledging that he has little interest in ever returning to a conventional work schedule. "I can't leave my job until the rest of the world catches up," he adds, laughing.
The world might catch up sooner than Jordan realizes. In the 2006 Benefits Survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, 57 percent of human resource professionals reported that their organizations offered flextime options to employees. And working parents aren't the only ones who benefit from flexible work arrangements.
Whether it gives them the opportunity to avoid commuter traffic jams or to spend more time on their outside interests, everyone stands to gain when employers make a commitment to improving work/life balance.
Definitions of flexible work arrangements
Five companies that offer flexible work arrangements Sun Microsystems, Inc.
Company profile: "An innovative industry leader in servers, storage, software and services with a 100 percent focus on network computing."
What they offer: 40 percent of Sun employees participate in the company's "Open Work" program, in which they have the freedom to work flexible hours and off-site. Employees in the Open Work program averaged more than a 34 percent gain in productivity, and gave the program a satisfaction rating of over 80 percent on metrics that track work/life balance. Richard Jordan reports that Sun employees who work from home score the highest of all employees in performance ratings, followed by employees who work flexible hours, and then employees who work in the office.
Company profile: "A global network of professional firms providing audit, tax and advisory services."
What they offer: "We have a firm-wide flextime policy as part of our approach to flexibility," says Barbara Wankoff, KPMG's national director of workplace solutions. Wankoff estimates that 70 percent of KPMG employees work flexible hours. Other components of KPMG's "culture of flexibility" include compressed work weeks and "jump-start" Fridays during the summer (when employees are encouraged to leave at 3 p.m.). "Feedback has been very positive," Wankoff says. A recent employee survey revealed that employees "strongly agree they have the flexibility they need," and that even with the scheduling freedom, "people continue to uphold their professional responsibilities."
Best Buy Co., Inc.
Company profile: "A specialty retailer of consumer electronics, personal computers, entertainment software and appliances."
What they offer: 60 percent of the employees at Best Buy's corporate campus participate in Results-Only Work Environments (ROWE), with nearly 75 percent predicted involvement by March 2007. As part of the ROWE program, the hours of the workday are not defined. Employees and management have the autonomy to complete their work wherever and whenever they choose as long as they achieve set results.
PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.
Company profile: "A highly diversified and growing financial services organization spanning the retail, business and corporate markets."
What they offer: "Nearly half of our 25,000 employee work force is on some type of flexible arrangement including job sharing, telecommuting and compressed work weeks," says Darcel Kimble of PNC's corporate communications group. A 2005 study by the non-profit organization Corporate Voices for Working Families found that a compressed work week pilot program at PNC resulted in: work that had previously taken two days being done in one day; absenteeism dropping from 60 days to nine days; improved customer service; and the company saving over $100,000 in turnover costs.
Company profile: "Provides industry-focused assurance, tax and advisory services to build public trust and enhance value for its clients and their stakeholders."
What they offer: Jennifer Duris, a manager in PwC's office of diversity, where she is responsible for Worklife and Flexible Work Arrangements, says that flexible work arrangements are "available to all staff." While just over 6 percent of PwC employees have a formal flextime arrangement, Duris estimates that more than 40 percent work flexible hours on an informal basis. The options available include: flextime hours, compressed work weeks and telecommuting (every employee is given a laptop).