More and more companies are moving toward a work-scheduling system designed to allow individuals at all levels to determine what days, hours, even weeks they will be working on the job or at the office.
All evidence points to this becoming the way of the future.
It's been well established within certain industries for a few years. Companies like WEST Telecommunications out of Omaha have been letting their customer service reps determine when they would work and even when they'd take vacations for a long time. They told me back in 2001 that they'd found it provided greater 'attendance' with fewer people calling in at the last minute to say they could not work that day for whatever reason. WEST executives felt that it was a great boon to employee satisfaction and reduced turnover of staff.
When JetBlue, the New York based discount airline, launched they took the idea further. They decided that employees in certain roles didn't even need to come to work. The employees scheduled when they'd work, and simply sign in from their homes. Supervisors can monitor performance and productivity remotely of course. That organization's customer service is always rated at the highest levels. In JetBlue's situation, a real company cost benefit is acheived because real estate needs are lessened with no need to house employees in company owned or leased buildings.
A less obvious set of benefits accrue from any telecommuter situation. These include lessened demand for fuel to travel, less pollution created, less wear and tear on roads resulting in lower $ needed to fix them, better traffic flow with fewer people on the roads, and fewer people sharing illnesses with each other.
Recently Best Buy made a lot of news when it said that its central offices in Minneapolis are usually 40% vacant because of its switch to allowing employees at all levels and functions to schedule when / where they would be working. It reports that the results are so promising, they expect to roll it out across their company. Already many of their sales associates are doing the scheduling for their own hours and days. This seems to be improving levels of service by Best Buy's tracking. No doubt that it's having a positive impact on their employee satisfaction -turnover levels have been cut nearly by 1/2.
Since then, Netflix annnounced similar success from a policy which goes even further. Their rule of thumb says it all, "just make sure your job is done." Employees can take up to 5 weeks of leave at a time and never need to clock in or out. CEO Reed Hastingss calls "vacation time limits and face-time requirements a thing of the past."
Here's a common feeling of people in corporations: We all believe that we can be trusted to do what's needed without being watched. But few of us have the same expectation of those who are at lower levels. Hmmm....
John M. McKee is the founder and CEO of BusinessSuccessCoach.net, an international consulting and coaching practice with subscribers in 43 countries. One of the founding senior executives of DIRECTV, his hands-on experience includes leading billion dollar organizations and launching start-ups in both the U.S. and Canada. The author of two published books, he is frequently seen providing advice on TV, in magazines, and newspapers.