smart leaders embrace flexibility

Why Smart Leaders Embrace Flexibility

When Yahoo’s CEO, Marissa Mayer, decided to eliminate telecommuting last year, there was backlash on both sides of the debate. For one side, Yahoo’s decision signaled the end of telecommuting and work flexibility as we know it. But for the other side, Mayer and her senior management team simply served as an example of the out-of-date managerial styles that will someday be far behind us. One year later, it seems that telecommuting and flexible work options are indeed growing trends, and that’s because smart leaders embrace work flexibility.

Here are three reasons why smart leaders embrace flexible work options.

Work Flexibility is Good for People

In the knowledge economy, people are at the core of every business. Smart leaders embrace flexible work options because they know the positive benefits these provide to their teams. Whether it’s working from home, having a flexible schedule, or working a compressed workweek, people with flexibility at work are healthier, less stressed, and more satisfied with their jobs. And for any company who relies on the performance of their people, health and happiness are vitally important.

Smart leaders embrace flexible work options because they know the positive benefits these provide to their teams.

Work Flexibility is Good for Society

Each flexible work option has its own positive impact, not just on individuals and companies, but on society as a whole. Telework helps reduce gas consumption from commuting, eliminates the need for CO2 emissions-heavy air travel for cross-country meetings, and cuts down on new construction of office space. Working parents with flexible jobs are more likely to spend their extra free time volunteering in their child’s classroom. It just makes sense–the more control you have over your lives, the more you’re able to live life to the fullest and have a positive impact on the world around you.

Work Flexibility is Good for Business

Smart leaders are savvy enough to realize that work flexibility is not a one-way street. There are plenty of benefits to be reaped by employers who offer telecommuting, flexible schedules, and other flexible work options to their workforces. Here are some of the most common positive benefits for companies that embrace work flexibility:

  • Increased productivity and reduced distractions: “AT&T workers work 5 more hours at home than their office workers.”
  • Reduced turnover, lowered recruiting and training costs: “95% of employers say telework has a high impact on employee retention.”
  • Fewer unscheduled absences: “Organizations that implemented a telework program realized a 63% reduction in unscheduled absences.”
  • Lowered real estate costs: “IBM slashed real estate costs by $50 million. The average real estate savings with full-time telework is $10,000 per employee per year.”

The more control you have over your lives, the more you’re able to live life to the fullest and have a positive impact on the world around you.

It’s not often that one solution can solve so many dilemmas, but flexible work options do just that. I founded the 1 Million for Work Flexibility initiative to bring together individuals, companies, and organizations to voice their support for flexible work options. The leaders at organizations like Working Mother, the USDA Work/Life and Wellness Program, UnitedHealth Group, the National Association for Female Executives, and Thomson Reuters have all signed on because they know that work flexibility makes a positive impact on people, on business, on the bottom line, and on society. And that’s why smart leaders embrace work flexibility.


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Image credit: martinan / 123RF Stock Photo

Sara Sutton Fell is the Founder of 1 Million for Work Flexibility, an initiative dedicated to promoting flexible work options for all. She’s also the CEO and Founder of FlexJobs, an award-winning, innovative career website which lists thousands of professional-level jobs that offer flexibility like telecommuting, flexible scheduling and freelancing. Sara is committed to flexible work options, and she and her staff of 40 people all work from home offices and have flexible schedules.

  • Rita Poynor

    People of excellence are intrinsically motivated. They get the job done without someone peering over their shoulders. By eliminating the stressors associated with commuting, leaders are unleashing the creative force that is inhibited by stress. With the tsunami of problems today, we need more creativity and less robotic thinking. No wonder Yahoo and similar companies are in trouble.

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  • Edward Reid

    This is an excellent article. There are always changes in management trends that many resist at first because most of us resist change. Work flexibility can do wonders to create a healthier environment because of several of the reasons you mentioned in the article. Yes, the winds have already shifted.

  • Dickon Moon

    Virtual working has become the new buzzword today, with many global companies acknowledging it as a vital and indispensable criterion for long term business success. So what’s in store for virtual working in 2014?

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