Study: Most Employers Are Sticking With Telework

Some large, well-known U.S. employers may have eliminated teleworking in the name of greater productivity and collaboration, but not all organizations are willing to do so. A new association survey documents some of the trends in workplace flexibility programs.

Earlier this year Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer announced the end of teleworking for employees. Hewlett-Packard and Best Buy soon followed suit.

But for a majority of U.S. employers, telecommuting remains a viable flexible work option, according to a new survey [PDF] conducted by the global human resources association WorldatWork.

Published in conjunction with National Work and Family Month this month, the “Survey on Workplace Flexibility 2013” found that 88 percent of the 566 responding organizations offer employees the option to telework.

The survey, last conducted in 2010, found that only 1 percent to 3 percent of organizations have eliminated telecommuting programs in the last two years. “That was nice validation that organizations are saying ‘Just because somebody else is doing it, we’re not going to do it,’” said Rose Stanley, WorldatWork practice leader for benefits and work-life, flexibility, and recognition.

While only a small percentage of the responding organizations got rid of teleworking programs, some reported dropping other flex options. For example, compressed work weeks, especially the type where employees work 80 hours in nine days and get one day off every other week, saw a decline since 2010. “There is a challenge with nonexempt employees and the 9/80 plan,” Stanley said, noting that under the Fair Labor Standards Act nonexempt workers are subject to overtime rules.

But there were increases in other programs, such as shift flexibility, and in phased retirement options—gradually reducing work hours until retirement— and career on/off ramps—leaving and re-entering the workforce—though the latter are still among the least common offerings.

Organizations are “realizing that there are a lot of different ways to have flexibility, and they’re looking at what is going to work appropriately for their organization within their culture and within the demographics that they have,” Stanley said.

Being more strategic in the types of workplace flexibility programs employers offer, instead of copying the guy next door, is a trend Stanley said will probably continue. She doesn’t anticipate a huge jump in the number of programs offered by the next time the survey is conducted, “but I think as time goes on, we’re going to see that people are starting to work differently.”


Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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