Flexible work schedules are good for business, expert says

Aug. 30, 2012 at 2:45 PM ET

Workplace expert Ken Matos joined us for a live web chat Thursday to answer your questions about the workplace.

Ken is Senior Director of Employment Research and Practice at the nonprofit workplace think tank Families and Work Institute.

He’s also co-author of the forthcoming book “WORKFLEX: The Essential Guide to Effective and Flexible Workplaces.”

Here’s one of Ken’s answers to questions from the live chat. (See below for the full Q&A.)

One guest asked:

“Why would my boss want to offer flexibility when there are 20 other people lined up to take my job?”

Ken replied:

“Many people question whether asking for workplace flexibility is a good choice in a rough economy. They tend to be afraid they will seem uncommitted or their employer will be unsympathetic. However, there are benefits for an organization from workplace flexibility that employers should be especially interested in during a rough economy.”

“For example, when employers and employees commit to honest communication about how to secure both a better work experience and high client satisfaction, organizations can become more proactive, efficient, and ultimately effective. Actually taking the effort to periodically examine how work gets done can lead to insights on how to do work more efficiently. Leslie Perlow, a researcher at Harvard Business School, just put out a great book entitled Sleeping with your Smartphone: How to Break the 24/7 Habit and Change the Way You Work. It describes how one high-speed consulting company used workplace flexibility to improve the effectiveness of their work and the morale of their employees (line and managerial) at the same time.”

“These conversations can also lead to less absenteeism because employees can work with their employer to minimize work-life conflicts. Let’s face it, an employee who needs to care for a sick relative is going to find some way to do it and it’s better for all involved to plan around the absence rather than have it be a secret surprise.”

A survey released Thursday showsthat work time flexibility is worth more than money for some employees.

You can continue the conversation with Ken and the Families and Work Institute on Twitter here.

Here’s the full chat archive: