Written by Lori Thiessen

Even though our current economy is putting the employer back in the driver’s seat, so to speak, employee retention is still important.

One way to retain a high performing, valuable employee is to offer a flexible work schedule or remote working option.  Paul Brent of Workopolis.com interviewed Rena Chenov who is the Global Program Manager of Work-Life Integration for IBM.  According to Chenov, 42 percent of IBM’s workforce is mobile and 10 percent are full-time “at home” workers. Those numbers are also expected to grow in the coming years.

The new generation of workers, Gen Y or Millenials, are expecting flexible or remote work options as part of their regular employment package.  In order to attract the next group of top performers, companies need to be open to remote working programs.

In a 2007 internal survey, IBM found that the second reason people left the company was due to a lack of flexibility in their work schedules.

Surveys have also found that employees who are allowed a flexible work schedule or given a remote working option are generally more productive than their traditional office colleagues.

Far from seeing the remote work option as a way to force an employee into a 24/7 situation, progressive companies are seriously looking at the work-life balance as critical to employee retention.

I find it intriguing that work-life balance is finding such strong support in a big corporation like IBM by the creation of the role that Rena Chenov occupies. Sun Microsystems apparently also has taken remote working so seriously that there is a vice-president dedicated full-time to overseeing that company’s remote working program.

Though remote working may seem to some companies as an invitation to lose control over their employees, in fact implementing a well-thought out and managed remote working program may end up creating more employee loyalty in the end.

Q: If your employer came to you with an option to either have more money or to have a flexible work schedule or work remotely, which would you choose?

Share your remote working/cafe commuter experiences with us through our survey at www.coffeeshopsurvey.com.

Thanks for dropping by and I’ll save your seat until next time!