How Do Virtual Offices Fit Into Flexible Working Trends?

BOSTON—Want to know what the experts are saying about flexible working? The Society of Human Resource Management just wrapped up a conference about its latest employer survey—and there was plenty of talk about flexible working.

Ellen Galinsky, president and co-founder of the Families and Work Institute, said emphatically that flexibility is not on a fast track, but it's on a steady track to becoming the new normal. That ties right in with the adoption of virtual offices.

"This is all about, in a tough economy, keeping and having the people who are there doing the best they possibly can, both to make work work for themselves and for their employer,” Galinksy said. Virtual offices can make work work for everyone.

Although virtual offices aren’t quite yet mainstream in every company, that day may soon be coming. Galinksy said we're not at a saturation point in providing flexibility, but we're moving in that direction.

"We have a stereotype that larger companies are more family friendly. But smaller companies have the edge,” she said. “Smaller companies are leading the way in this."

Ken Matos, senior director of employment research and practice, noted that forms of flexibility that allow employees to work longer hours, and adjust those hours on a daily basis, seem to be on the rise. That’s a concept called workshifting and it works well in a virtual office setting.

"The types of flexibility that pull employees away from work for an extended period of time seem to be offered less often,” Matos says. “Those are the moments when a lot of employees can do professional development, it's when they deal with recovery from work and burnout and when they deal with longer-term family issues."


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