Getting Rid of Workflex?!

It’s always a sad day for us when an employer decides to reduce the amount of workplace flexibility it offers employees. So it’s with a heavy heart that we pass along news about Bank of America doing just that.

This from the Winston-Salem Journal:

Bank of America is preparing to add more restrictions to its popular work-from-home program, meaning more employees across the company will be sent back to the office more often.

The program, known as “My Work,” had grown significantly since it was introduced in 2005 and was widely touted as a cost-saver. It also has proved popular with employees who say it saves on commuting costs and helps them balance work and family.

Now the bank has asked department managers to determine which job categories would better serve the bank by having workers come into the office, a bank spokeswoman said.

Clearly Bank of America saw the bottom-line payoff of providing workflex to its employees, which as of 2010 15,000 employees were taking advantage of. But the financial institution is reconsidering the benefit as part of overall measures taken in recent months to help the struggling firm.

In September, the company announced it was boosting its efforts to shrink its workforce by 16,000 employees by end of the year, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal.

Taking aim at workflex may help them reach that goal.

“Turnover may result from their actions,” maintained Kenneth Matos, Senior Director of Employment Research and Practice for the Families and Work Institute.

According to the Institute’s report titled “The State of Health in the American Workforce: Does Having An Effective Workplace Matter”:

Work-life fit is the second most important predictor of job satisfaction and intent to stay in one’s job.

What’s your take? Is this a smart business move?

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4 Responses to Getting Rid of Workflex?!

  1. Eve, no question this is a poor business decision. I don’t see this as a business decision as much as a values decision. i study what I call corporate idolatry, which occurs when people either choose to or are forced to follow the value system of their employer, as opposed to more universal, people first values.

    I don’t think Bank of America has a culture that places a high priority on flexibility and freedom. I am a B o A customer, and once I needed them to fix a mistake they made. Four phone calls, the last of which with a manager. I could tell over the phone how badly he felt about the situation.

    The computer literally prevented him from correcting a mistake. I really felt badly for him because he wanted to do the right think. I think it was dehumanizing and humiliating for him. I was very nice to him, took the fine,which he removed it the next day. He asked me to call him back to make sure it happened. His mail box was full.

    I hope he quit because he deserved better. I seriously considered moving my money to another bank, but the time and effort to redo all of my online bill payments would be too high, and ATMs everywhere is great.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if certain execs who always hated the flex program, and were happy to use this pretext to kill it.

  2. Greg–I totally agree with your assessment in your last sentence. One or a few dinosaurs at the top of the organization who think that flex is fluff can do SO much damage.

  3. To answer your question Eve, this is not a smart business move for Bank of America. Many companies, including Mom Corps, who incorporate flexible work options into their business strategies, embrace flexwork for the purpose of promoting a healthy work/life alignment for employees. If Bank of America originally designed their My Work program for this purpose, then the company is backtracking by enforcing restrictions on the program. There are many benefits to this type of flexible workplace, such as greater access to talent, so it is unfortunate to see the company withdraw from their popular work-from-home program. –Allison O’Kelly, founder/CEP Mom Corps

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