The Economics of Workplace Flexibility (2010)

As part of the White House Forum for Workplace Flexibility, the Council of Economic Advisers released a report presenting an economic perspective on flexible workplace policies and practices.
Work-Life Balance and the Economics of Workplace Flexibility (pdf) highlights changes in American society over the past half century, including the increased number of women entering the labor force, the prevalence of families where all adults work, increasing eldercare responsibilities, and the rising importance of continuing education. These changes are among those that have increased the need for flexibility in the workplace.

Many firms have found that flexible arrangements can represent smart management practice for which the benefits outweigh the costs. However, almost one-third of firms cite costs or limited funds as obstacles to implementing workplace flexibility arrangements. At the same time, other firms report benefits in the form of lower absenteeism and turnover, improved health of their workers, and increased productivity.

While the growing body of evidence has established a strong connection between flexibility and productivity, research that explores the mechanisms through which flexibility influences workers’ job satisfaction and a firm’s profits would better inform policy makers and managers alike.  In the meantime, the best available evidence suggests that encouraging more firms to consider adopting flexible practices can potentially boost productivity, improve morale, and benefit the U.S. economy.