Telework could save billions: study
The benefits of achieving a work-life balance have been expressed many times through surveys, studies and employee testimonials. Teleworking can increase productivity (up to 20%), increase employee empowerment and morale, as well as reduce energy consumption and pollution, and strengthen quality of life. It can also help an organization retain key talent and may also help attract top talent.
There are many steps employers can take to encourage employees to achieve their balance, of which telecommuting and flextime are just two.
According to recent research by the Calgary Economic Development and the Telework Research Network, twice weekly telecommuting could save Canadian companies, employees and the community more than $53 billion per year. An employer could save approximately $10,000 per year, per employee, and employees themselves could save between $600 and $3,500.
Reduced turnover could also save Canadian companies $1.8 billion per year, according to WORKshift Canada: The Bottom line of Telework.
As attractive as telecommuting sounds though, the reality is that although four out of ten Canadians have jobs that could be done at home, only three out of 100 actually do. (However, eight out of 10 would work from home if they could.)
But for some organizations teleworking just doesn’t work. If you’re in this position and want to offer an alternative, you might want to consider the option of flextime.
To help make flextime work, here are some ideas
- Establish a core period (for example, 10am – 2pm) when employees need to be at work, but allow them to choose what time they start and leave (just as long as they put in the required hours)
- Some might choose to start at 6am while others might prefer 8am or even 10am; those with family obligations might prefer to arrive later; some work more productively in the quiet early morning; others may just want to improve their work-life balance and take time other than weekends to enjoy their outside interests
- Depending on personal priorities and preference, you may find members of your team on the premises from 6am to 6pm (the benefit being, as we all know, technical issues aren’t just restricted to 9-5!)
- Allow employees to work extra hours on some days that they put towards additional time off. If working in a highly stressful environment, some employees may appreciate additional time off to recharge
Flextime, however, does not work for every organization. Before implementing it, first consider whether it works for yours. Does it fit in with your organizational culture? Who will you offer flextime perks to? Have you weighed up the benefits and disadvantages?
Some organizations may find it relatively easy to offer flexibility (for example, during the summertime or holidays), but others may need more advanced structure and planning.
If you choose to pursue flextime, be sure to set very clear parameters and expectations for your employees.
Would you let one of your rock-stars go to a competitor because you’re not willing to budge on their start time or because they need to work from home once a week? By far, the greatest advantage for introducing flextime is employee retention. From there, the benefits multiply.
When employees know that you’re willing to be flexible to promote greater work-life balance they’re much more likely to reward you with loyalty, extra hard work, increased productivity and less unplanned time off (e.g. sick days). More importantly, they’re much more likely to stick around and contribute positively to your happy, flexible culture.
A word of warning though: think flextime offerings through very carefully before making any commitments. It’s an offer that’s hard to retract.
Do you offer flextime? If not, why not. We’d love to hear from you.