Indian firms have begun offering flexible work options: Study

Indian firms have begun offering flexible work options: Study

Four-fifths of the companies in India and 81 per cent of firms globally offer their staff flexible working conditions, related to office hours or location, says a recent study by Regus, a workplace solutions provider.

To contain costs and boost profitability, companies are increasingly following flexible working patterns that gives top priority to an employee’s choice of shift timings as well as place of work.

“Sixty per cent of the businesses globally believe that flexible working practices, whether related to office hours or location, are more cost efficient than fixed office working. This has added to the evident carbon reduction benefits resulting from reduced commuting distances,” says the study.

With technology easing out the barriers of time, speed and distance, companies in India are also allowing their employees to work from home.

“We have fixed office hours but on certain occasions, we do allow our employees to guide the work from home over a telecon. This is to ensure employee welfare as well as support to the office projects,” asserts Era Group HR Head Raj Sharma.

Flexible working patterns are also recognised as effective in motivating and rewarding family-oriented employees. 70 per cent of firms globally consider flexible working to be more family-friendly.

“Four out of 10 businesses believe that flexible working improves employee productivity (41 per cent) and a third believe that motivation also increases when flexi-working is allowed,” points the study.

“Higher the comfort levels, better the results and also fewer the chances of errors. If an employee is given a choice in the hours and place of his working, his stress and frustration level goes down tremendously.

“Plus, his engagement level would be highly different,” points out Max Healthcare consultant psychiatrist Samir Parikh.

Software programmer Garima Vishnoi works for an IT company in Pune, though it does not have a branch office in the city.

“After my wedding, I had to shift Pune and my company offered me to work from home as it does not have a branch here,” she says.

Particularly of interest to emerging economies, the study points out that over one fifths of businesses globally (21 per cent) believe that flexible working practices are an asset to them in periods of sudden growth as they allow rapid scalability. Flexible working also results in reduced overheads and office staff achieving an improved work-life balance.

“That flexible work has become the norm is good news all round. Over 17,000 business respondents were interviewed across 80 countries during February 2011. Respondents of over 1 million business-people worldwide are highly representative of senior managers and owners in businesses across the globe,” says Regus Country Head Madhusudan Thakur. 59 per cent of firms in India say they believe that flexible working costs less than fixed office working.

Over eight out of ten businesses offering flexible working report that their staff has a significantly better work-life balance, improving satisfaction and motivation; almost four in ten believe that it improves staff productivity, and three in ten say that it helps them scale rapidly to cope with rapid growth.

Almost four in 10 flexible working businesses also feel that their policy helps them access a wider talent pool and a fourth say it helps them employ people in more remote locations.

At the same time, the survey also finds that trust remains a major hurdle for many companies offering flexible working. 57 per cent of Indian businesses only offer this privilege to senior staff.

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