Want to Increase Productivity? Increase Your Talent’s Flexibility

May 4, 2008 by Ken Nowack

“I’m a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” Thomas Jefferson

Prior research has demonstrated that employees’ positive mood is associated with job performance. Two recent longitudinal studies used data collected from 306 (Study 1) and 263 (Study 2) insurance sales agents in Taiwan. The results showed that employee positive moods were significantly associated with increased performance indirectly through both interpersonal (helping other coworkers and coworker helping and support) and motivational (self-efficacy and task persistence) processes1.  What better way to increase positive mood then by giving employees more control over their work schedule and time?

Flexible work schedules and telecommuting would seem to be perfect for this outcome.  In fact, an estimated 45 million Americans telecommuted in 2006, up from 41 million in 2003, according to the magazine WorldatWork.  Telecommuting is often defined as an alternative work arrangement in which employees perform tasks elsewhere that are normally done in a primary or central workplace, for at least some portion of their work schedule, using electronic media to interact with others inside and outside the organization.

In fact, a recent meta-analysis of telecommuting involving 12, 833 employees suggested that it results in higher morale and job satisfaction and lower employee stress and turnover2.  it seems that employers who are open to structuring jobs so that talent have flexible work hours is directly related to retention and engagement.

In a single study on flexible work hours with 570 call center employees, those who had the most control over their work hours reported significantly less stress and non-work conflicts.  In this study, work hours were negatively related to job satisfaction but control over time moderated this relationship so that as work hours increased, those with the mot control reported significantly less work-family balance dissatisfaction These employees did report poorer relationships most likely due to less communication and direct interaction3.

Ok, can you think of any downsides to flexible scheduling and telecommuting? Contrary to the popular notion that being in the same setting is absolutely essential for sound working relationships, the researchers found that telecommuters’ relationship with their colleagues and boss did not suffer from telecommuting except for those who worked away from their offices for three or more days a week.  

It seems pretty clear that allowing talent to figure out when to get the work done is a pretty good retention and productivity strategy overall.

Back to my scheduled nap…Be well….
[tags]envisia learning, telecommuting, work life balance, engagement, control, flexible hours, job satisfacti0on, kenneth nowack, ken nowack, nowack[/tags]

  1. Tsai, W. et al. (2007). Test of a model linking employee positive moods and task performance. Journal of Applied Psychology. 2007 November Vol 92(6) 1570-1583 []
  2. Gajendran, R. & Harrison, D. (2007). The good, the bad, and the unknown about telecommuting: Meta-analysis of psychological mediators and individual consequences. Journal of Applied Psychology. 2007 November Vol 92(6) 1524-1541 []
  3. Valcour, M. (2007).  Work-based resources as moderators of the relationship between work hours and satisfaction with work-family balance.Journal of Applied Psychology. 2007 Nov Vol 92(6) 1512-1523 []

Kenneth Nowack, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist (PSY13758) and President & Chief Research Officer/Co-Founder of Envisia Learning, is a member of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations. Ken also serves as the Associate Editor of Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research. His recent book Clueless: Coaching People Who Just Don’t Get It is available for free for a limited time by signing up for free blog updates (Learn more at our website)

Posted in Engagement, Leadership Development, Wellness

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  1. Wally Bock says:

    Congratulations! This post was selected as one of the five best business blog posts of the week in my Three Star Leadership Midweek Review of the Business Blogs.

    http://blog.threestarleadership.com/2008/05/07/5708-a-midweek-look-at-the-business-blogs.aspx

    Wally Bock

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