Face Time or Flex Time?

Flexible work arrangements are becoming the norm.

Companies like Yahoo! and Best Buy may have done away with teleworking and flexible work arrangements for their employees, but new research says they are in the minority, and could pay as a result.

Harvard Business Review reports on new research by Catalyst, which surveyed 726 MBA graduates working full-time around the world and found that flexible work arrangements are no longer the exception: 81 percent of respondents reported working for an organization that offers work flexibilities, such as telework, flex time, compressed work weeks and job sharing.

The most common types of flexible work arrangements were: flexible arrival and departure (64 percent), telecommuting (32 percent), and flex time (31 percent), Catalyst found.

In addition, while women value flexible work arrangements more than men, both groups report using such flexibilities to the same extent throughout their careers. Telework was one area, however, where women reported higher use than men, with men almost twice as likely to report that they have never teleworked over the course of their careers, Catalyst found.  

And while Yahoo! and Best Buy have stressed the need for more face time to improve collaboration and innovation, those efforts could come at the expense of having a highly motivated workforce. Respondents working at firms that offer flexible work arrangements have higher career aspirations on average than those who work at firms without such arrangements, Catalyst found.  

That finding was especially true among women: 83 percent of women with access to flexible work arrangements said they aspired to the C-suite level, compared to just 54 percent of women without access to flexible arrangements, Catalyst found.

A report released last week by the Partnership for Public Service and Deloitte found a four-point gap between male and female federal workers in the ways they view leadership issues like fairness and empowerment. Catalyst’s research shows that the government’s commitment to expanding telework programs may be one key to improving female feds’ job satisfaction and career aspirations, particularly in federal IT shops where women continue to remain relatively scarce.