Four-fifths of firms in India offer flexi work options: Study

New Delhi: If you are tired of working graveyard shifts and think you could perform better during the day fret not your company may soon lend an ear to your grievances, following in the footsteps of their competitors.

Four-fifth of the companies in India and 81 per cent of firms globally offer their staff flexible working conditions, related to office hours or location, says a recent study by Regus, a workplace solutions provider.

To contain costs and boost profitability, companies are increasingly following flexible working patterns that gives top priority to an employee`s choice of shift timings as well as place of work.

"Sixty per cent of the businesses globally believe that flexible working practices, whether related to office hours or location, are more cost efficient than fixed office working. This has added to the evident carbon reduction benefits resulting from reduced commuting distances," says the study.

With technology easing out the barriers of time, speed and distance, companies in India are also allowing their employees to work from home.

"We have fixed office hours but on certain occasions, we do allow our employees to guide the work from home over a telecon. This is to ensure employee welfare as well ass support to the office projects," asserts Raj Sharma, HR Head at Era Group.

Flexible working patterns are also recognized as effective in motivating and rewarding family-oriented employees. Seventy per cent of firms globally consider flexible working to be more family friendly.

"Four out of ten businesses believe that flexible working improves employee productivity (41 per cent) and a third believe that motivation also increases when flexi-working is allowed," points the study.

"Higher the comfort levels, better the results and also fewer the chances of errors. If an employee is given a choice in the hours and place of his working his stress and frustration level goes down tremendously.

"Plus, his engagement level would be highly different," points out Samir Parikh, consultant psychiatrist with Max Healthcare, who also deals with corporate clients during counselling and life-skills training workshops.

27-year-old, software programmer Garima Vishnoi works for an IT company in Pune even though it does not have a branch office in the city.

"After my wedding, I had to shift Pune and my company offered me to work from home as it does not have a branch here," she says.

Particularly of interest to emerging economies, the study points out that over one fifth of businesses globally (21 per cent) believe that flexible working practices are an asset to them in periods of sudden growth as they allow rapid scalability.

Flexible working also results in reduced overheads and office staff achieving an improved work-life balance.

"That flexible work has become the norm is good news all round. Over 17,000 business respondents were interviewed across 80 countries during February 2011. Respondents of over 1 million business-people worldwide are highly representative of senior managers and owners in businesses across the globe," says Madhusudan Thakur, Country Head of Regus.

59 per cent of firms in India say they believe that flexible working costs less than fixed office working.

"Flexible working can not be applied to all the departments of the company. As in production or client servicing it is very difficult to opt for it but when opted for other departments like sales and other field jobs it contributes in cutting down the cost to the company," says Pradeep Gopte, Vice President, HR at a Delhi-based PR firm.

Over eight out of ten businesses offering flexible working report that their staff has a significantly better work-life balance, improving satisfaction and motivation; almost four in ten believe that it improves staff productivity, and three in ten say that it helps them scale rapidly to cope with rapid growth.

Almost four in ten flexible working businesses also feel that their policy helps them access a wider talent pool and a fourth say it helps them employ people in more remote locations.

At the same time, the survey also finds that trust remains a major hurdle for many companies offering flexible working. 57 per cent of Indian businesses only offer this privilege to senior staff.

"It is recognised that a major obstacle to greater economic growth in India is problems with the transport infrastructure and the fact that India`s entrepreneurs and employees waste hours each day in traffic. It is disappointing to still see some companies letting lack of trust hold them back from flexible working for all employees," adds Thakur.