Flexible schedules benefit retention, bottom line

12 Dec

Telecommuting can help companies retain employees.

Workers generally want to have flexible hours. This means choosing when and where to work as well. When businesses let their employees choose their own schedules, employees are happier and actually want to work harder, according to a Forrester report cited by the Harvard Business Review. This is one of many employee engagement ideas that can lead to greater productivity.

The trend is also shifting toward more people working from home. Cloud technology and communication tools have become so advanced that telecommuting is easy. By 2016, about 43 percent of the U.S. workforce will be working from home. Additionally, most millennials, a total of 92 percent, want to choose where and when to work.

Companies that allow employees to telecommute have a greater likelihood of experiencing revenue growth compared to other businesses. But working from home isn't the only way businesses have created ways for workers to choose their schedules and projects. Employees at Gerson Lehrman's global headquarters in New York get to choose where they work among a number of "neighborhoods," which are essentially loose teams of people that employees can join whenever they choose. Engineers for Lehrman have the freedom to choose exactly what they want to work on, independent of managerial oversight.

Such an office would be a bit chaotic for certain businesses because not every company focuses on the same kind of hard engineering jobs. It would be difficult to imagine an HR company allowing its workers to choose what to do. In such a context, the real benefit would be cloud-based computing, which lets employees work from home and choose their hours. If someone doesn't have to attend a meeting, then it wouldn't be inappropriate to let that person work at night or in the early morning if he or she preferred.

A negative example of flexible schedules
Sometimes flexible schedules lead to problems. This happens when the flexibility lies in the hands of the company. Employees often prefer to have control over their own schedules, according to Vox. Many workers who receive relatively low wages compared with other people in their industry have the added challenge of not knowing what their week will look like in advance. This can lead to poor worker retention. Starbucks had this problem before it changed its scheduling computer to be more accommodating.

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