Workflex Educating Yahoo!

I'd like to personally invite Yahoo's CEO Marissa Mayer to our Workflex Conference in San Francisco in October. And I'd also like to extend the invitation to any managers out there who just don't get how important flexible work is to the bottom line.

Last week was a whirlwind for Families and Work Institute thanks to the many media outlets, both national and international, that turned to our research to help make sense of Yahoo's decision to end telecommuting for its employees.

"They are going against process on this decision as the U.S. economy moves into the 21st global economy," wrote Ellen Galinsky, the Institute's cofounder in an opinion piece on about Yahoo's move.

She went on to write:

According to Families and Work Institute’s 2012 National Study of Employers, 63 percent of employers now allow at least some of their employees to work part of their regularly paid hours at home on an occasional basis, up from 34 percent in 2005.

Employers aren’t doing this so that employees can slack off, be lazy at home, and not get work done—in fact, quite the contrary. They are doing this to save on real estate costs, to improve the environment due to less commuting, and yes, to improve employees’ productivity. In fact, workplace flexibility was a frequent response to the recession—used as a way of boosting productivity during a business downturn.

Galinsky, along with a few of our other top researchers, Ken Matos and Kelly Sakai-O'Neill, were quoted in a host of publications, everything from the New York Times to a Los Angeles talk radio show.

While having such a high profile employer come out against telecommuting was frustrating because we see flexible workplaces as the key way to make more productive workplaces, the coverage of Yahoo's decision was also frustrating, especially when reporters focused on workflex as a working mother issue.

Galinsky pointed this out in her opinion piece on

Our data reveal that having access to flexibility is not for mothers only nor is it for fathers only. It is not for younger employees only, nor is it for older employees only. It is for all of us. And it is not for all of the time, all or nothing, as the Yahoo decree implied.

Like a well-managed insurance policy, it can benefit employers too. Our exhaustive research shows that employees with access to flexibility are more likely than other employees to have:

* greater engagement in their jobs;
* higher levels of job satisfaction;
* stronger intentions to remain with their employers;
* less negative and stressful spillover from job to home;
* less negative spillover from home to job; and
* better mental health.

Flexibility must work for the employer and the employee, and our analysis shows that it does when it’s managed well and viewed as a business essential, not an employee perk that can be randomly bestowed or taken away.

Indeed, flexibility shouldn't be seen as a gift to employees, or as a gender specific issue, it's just about good management.

All these workflex realities will be addressed during our annual Workflex Conference where the top thought leaders in this field will be on hand to discuss the nuts and bolts of creating flexible workplaces, and to make a case for how workflex has to become part of every employer's business strategy if they want to compete in the increasingly competitive global marketplace.

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