When we start writing up the review for 2009, the two negatives that ended up being the biggest party-killers for companies will be the economic mess we're in, and the swine flu. But being the type to occasionally find the silver lining in a cloud, I believe that these may actually have some positive effects – as this piece on HR.BLR.com spells out.
How so? Because companies are offering staff more and more flexibility about where and how they work. While this is hardly new or revolutionary, it's nice to see some data to quantify how companies are providing their workforce with more freedoms in the hope of maintaining morale.
According to a study by the Families and Work Institute, 81% of respondents are keeping flexibility opportunities at current levels, while another 13% are expanding them. That leaves a measly 6% not to benefit.
This flexibility includes reduced work hours or working from home - both of which can greatly increase quality of life without increasing pay. These simple ways of boosting morale are also cost cutters for companies, as fewer hours or less people in the office means less electricity used and less resources consumed. And they might well prove to be absolutely vital if the threatened flu pandemic really sets in.
The remaining question: will this flexibility remain after the economy goes back to normal?