Data Points to Growth in Flexible Work Arrangements

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With Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer’s recent decision to eliminate employee’s work-from-home option, has come a firestorm of commentaries and rumors about what her very public decision at a prominent employer means for the future of flexible workplace practices at workplaces across the nation.

Image Source: Adam Tinworth

Locally, in 2013 the Plain Dealer ran an article citing ERC data and giving an inside look at how some of Northeast Ohio’s top workplaces structure highly functional work-from-home options for their employees. Now that the dust has settled following the big Yahoo announcement earlier this month, it appears that Mayer’s decision was largely based on internal issues specific to the tech giant.

While Northeast Ohio employers are certainly not immune to the problems that have surfaced at Yahoo surrounding work-from-home arrangements, data from several past ERC surveys strongly suggest that flexible work arrangements in Northeast Ohio are continuing to grow in popularity and aren’t likely to go the way of Yahoo’s work-from-home policy anytime soon.

Telecommuting up approximately 6%

For example, the 2013 ERC Policies & Benefits Survey reports that telecommuting, specifically for exempt employees, is up approximately 6% since the 2011-2012 version of the survey was released and up nearly 10% since the same survey was published in 2009-2010. While this telecommuting percentage for exempt employees is greater than the national statistics, other employee groups (i.e. both union and non-union production/maintenance workers as well as non-exempt clerical/technical workers) fall slightly below the national averages for their respective employee types.

Of course telecommuting is not the only alternative work schedule being offered by Northeast Ohio employers which include options like:

  • compressed work weeks
  • flextime schedules
  • job sharing
  • part time schedules

Exempt employees are not the only employee group given options on how to structure their work arrangements. For these non-exempt workers, telecommuting is less common than it is for their exempt co-workers, but compressed work weeks and part time work are consistently granted more frequently to non-exempt groups than they are for the exempt group.

Flexibility Dependent Upon Position

Given this clear trend of differentiation between the types of alternative work arrangements available to exempt and non-exempt employee groups, it is perhaps unsurprising that respondents to the 2013 ERC Policies & Benefits Survey report their decisions to grant flexible work arrangements are based primarily on the position held by the employee. In many cases it is the nature of the work being performed that drives the type of flexibility available to the employee. For example, non-exempt production workers can sometimes make a schedule of four 10 hour days work based on the production schedule of their plant. Alternatively, exempt employees in a professional services organization may be more limited to the typical 9am-5pm hours, but don’t have job duties that require them to be physically present.

Despite this focus on employee type, it should be noted that just under one-third of the respondents to the 2013 Policies & Benefits Survey indicated that they also give consideration to individual employee proposals requesting alternative scheduling. Ultimately, whether you are Yahoo or a small business in Northeast Ohio, it appears that flexible work arrangements are here to stay and come in many different shapes and sizes. The key to utilizing them effectively for the benefit of both your business and your workforce is to be just what the name suggests- flexible.

Additional Resources:

For more information about ERC Surveys click here.

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