July 30, 2016

MUCH WORKPLACE PRESSURE COMES FROM HAVING TO PRETEND YOU'RE WORKING:

How a Flex-Time Program at MIT Improved Productivity, Resilience, and Trust (Peter Hirst, JUNE 30, 2016, Harvard Business Review)

Working directly with our human resources department, we launched a remote work pilot for our team of 35 employees. The program has several key principles:

Everyone is encouraged to work remotely at least two to three days per week

Wednesdays are our "work in the office if you physically can" days

You don't need to work a strict 9-to-5 schedule, but be mindful of regular business hours and don't expect others to match your unique working hours

Don't feel that you need to be connected 24/7

This foundation proved instrumental in having the team understand the opportunities and responsibilities in having a flex-time schedule. After our six-month trial period, we surveyed the team to determine if this arrangement was a viable and successful long-term benefit of working for our department. The survey found that 100% of the team said they would recommend working remotely to other departments.

At first glance, the financial gain is negligible; it's simply a benefit we added that did not increase our personnel budget. But looking deeper there are tangible bottom-line benefits to our flex-time program. For example, our employees report feeling less stressed, simply because -- for some -- we reduced or eliminated a grueling commute. According to Psychology Today, commuting can have a significant detrimental impact on people:

Commuting "can be a major cause of stress due to the unpredictability and a sense of loss of control"

It is "associated with increased blood pressure, musculoskeletal problems, lower frustration tolerance, and higher levels of anxiety and hostility"

It "can cause bad moods when arriving at work and coming home, increased lateness and missed work, and worsened cognitive performance"

Just one additional hour of commuting has been linked to a 6% decrease in health-related activities such as sleep, exercise, and family time

By reducing the number of days our team members need to come to Cambridge -- a notoriously bad commute -- we've reduced or eliminated a core area of stress. That benefit should reap results in healthier and happier employees who take fewer unplanned sick days. In its 2014 survey on workplace flexibility, the Society for Human Resource Management found that one-third of companies participating in the survey saw a decrease in absenteeism after they implemented flex-time policies.

Our flex-time program also delivers financial gain for us in the form of increased productivity, regardless of the weather. 

Those two hours a day when we actually work are simply more productive if we're happier.

Posted by at July 30, 2016 9:45 AM

  

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