Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What a Flexible Workplace Has to Do With Trust and Creativity

Marissa Mayer wants everyone at the office. Other companies don't even have offices. Where do you fit?

Chegg, a Silicon Valley online textbook rental service, introduced unlimited paid vacation; so far, no one has abused the privilege. When I was running software companies, women on maternity leave were told to come back when they wanted to, on a schedule of their own devising; they never let me down. Strategies like these inspire terrific loyalty--but I wonder how many companies use them?

By 2025, Generation Y and its successors will comprise more than half the global population and 75 percent of the workforce, according to consulting firm A.T. Kearney. And 80 percent of them want to be able to work flexibly. How many, I wonder, will get what they want?

Although many companies these days are comfortable demanding constant attention from their employees, few are at ease with the idea that this needs to be reciprocal. And many still persist in thinking this is a women's issue when it isn't. It's a talent and retention issue. Here's why:

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