Survey: Flexwork Works

Guess what, folks: Flexible work arrangements work. And they're only going to become more common.

Three-quarters of human resources professionals from companies that offer flexible work arrangements say they are successful, according to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management. These arrangements include compressed workweeks, flex-time, phased retirement and job sharing, break arrangements and shift flexibility.

Furthermore, 66 percent of HR professionals said sabbaticals — a flex arrangement in which a worker takes an extended amount of time off — were somewhat successful.

The survey polled 525 HR professionals from April through June. Its findings were released at SHRM's Diversity and Inclusion Conference & Exposition in New Orleans this week.

“Flexible work arrangements are an important part of an effective workplace and contribute to employee job satisfaction, retention and health," said Evren Esen, director of SHRM’s survey programs. "But workforce culture could be a barrier preventing employees from taking advantage of these arrangements. The role of managers is central to the success of flexible work arrangements. Managers need to work with HR to communicate to employees what options are available and how they benefit the goals of both employees and the organization.”

In terms of specific flex-work arrangements, roughly 40 percent of HR professionals whose organizations offer telecommuting said the practice increased productivity, and 32 percent said absenteeism rates of telecommuters also declined, according to the survey.

Most respondents said telecommuting and other flexible work styles would grow more pervasive in the next five years, the survey showed, but less than half said a larger portion of the workforce would be likely to telecommute or become eligible for flex options in that span.