Enterprises around the world are embracing -- apprehensively in some cases -- flexible working policies, and they are proving to be both good for employee morale and the bottom line.
Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) recently surveyed 8,000 businesses across ten countries and found that 75% have introduced flexible working policies, like the ability to work from home or adjust hours based on commute time or family obligations. Of those who had, 61% said their company's profits increased, 83% reported an improvement in productivity and 58% believed the policies had a positive impact on the company's reputation.
These types of policies were most common in the US where 82% of companies had them in place, and the outcomes have been equally positive with 77% noting staff morale had increased and 60% reporting an improved work/life balance.
John Curtis, vice president of operations for Vodafone Americas, said the survey was also telling in that the 20% of companies that had yet to implement flexible policies were a good indication of the perceived barriers that still exist. In the US, those include a fear that employee teamwork will decline (43%) and a lack of enterprise social networking tools to help (44%).
Half of US employees also said they don't feel they can actually use the flexible policy their employer offers, highlighting the differences between policies and company culture. (See Vodafone's Doberneck: Put Policies Into Practice to Retain Women and Championing Change: It's a Cultural Thing.)
"There are a number of concerns or fears about it that companies need to work to overcome," Curtis says. "Eighty-two percent have adopted it, but there's still a ways to go for companies to make it easy."
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Curtis says Vodafone has made good use of collaboration tools and, especially, video conferencing, to be productive and encourage teamwork amongst its flexible workers across the globe. The company is also proud of its maternity leave policy, which offers new moms 16 weeks of paid time off, plus the ability to work 30-hour work weeks at full pay for six months after they return. It does not, however, extend the same policy to new fathers, who get just two weeks paid off. Melissa Salottolo, senior industry analyst and PR lead for Vodafone Americas, says that's because its motivation for the policy was a business one. (See Vodafone: What's Good for Moms Is Good for Business.)
"The maternity leave global mandatory minimum was about addressing a shift we saw in organizations with our female employees and losing a percent of those employees because of leave," she says. "The effort last year was focused on retaining that level of female employees. It was about the business benefit for Vodafone overall."
— Sarah Thomas, , Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading