Flexible Work Arrangements

August 14, 1998 • Volume 8, Issue 30
Do they really improve productivity?
By Kathy Koch

Introduction

Bob Benda works from home full time as a senior support engineer for NORTEL -- Northern Telecom, Ltd., in Richardson, Texas. The firm launched a telecommuting program three years ago as a cost-saving measure and now has 2,500 telecommuters out of some 22,000 employees in North America. (Photo Credit: NORTEL)
Bob Benda works from home full time as a senior support engineer for NORTEL -- Northern Telecom, Ltd., in Richardson, Texas. The firm launched a telecommuting program three years ago as a cost-saving measure and now has 2,500 telecommuters out of some 22,000 employees in North America. (Photo Credit: NORTEL)

Thousand of employers are launching flexibility programs as stressed workers – squeezed between work and child- and elder-care responsibilities – demand more family-friendly work arrangements. In addition, many employers say that flexibility reduces absenteeism, improves employee retention and reduces costs for recruitment, real estate and overhead. Yet many old-style managers resist workplace flexibility, especially telecommuting, because of apparently unfounded fears it will hurt productivity. Meanwhile, flexibility proponents charge that flexible work arrangements are still out of reach for those who need it the most – workers at the bottom end of the income scale.

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