TUTOR: I’m really excited to hear how your research project on alternative workplace policies is going, Gary and Aiko. The last time we talked, you were just at the beginning phases of your desktop research. If I remember correctly, you were going to each choose a topic to hone in on. How’s that going?
GARY: Well, we did a lot of research and decided to look at two specific policies, flexitime and flexplace.
AIKO: We decided on these policies for a couple of reasons. First, they appear most often in the literature. But also because we feel, um, that they really are the future of workplace management.
TUTOR: Very good then. So, who’s researching what?
AIKO: I’m looking at flexitime policies, which basically lets employees decide what hours they work. My research includes both the historic development of the concept and its contemporary applications.
TUTOR: I’m glad you are covering flexitime’s history. Many people assume it’s a relatively new development, but actually it’s been around for a while.
AIKO: Yes, that’s right. I was reading that here in the UK, flexitime really took off back in 1971 when a group of companies...um, Hengstler was the name, I believe...trademarked the term “Flextime.” They packaged the concept of flexible working hours into a marketable product, offering technical solutions for recording work time.
TUTOR: Mm-hm. And it really took off, didn’t it?
AIKO: Oh yes, absolutely. By 2003, 17.7 percent of men and 26.7 of women in the UK had flexitime employment arrangements. And from what I understand, that number has continuously risen.
TUTOR: Why do you think it’s so popular?
AIKO: Mainly because employees can create a better work-life balance. They can adapt their work hours to public transportation schedules, to road traffic, to...
TUTOR: ...and to their children.
AIKO: Exactly. Parents don’t have to give up their jobs to raise their kids. This has been particularly advantageous for working mothers.
AIKO: Studies have also shown that employees using flexitime report less fatigue and illness, and increased motivation.
TUTOR: But what about companies? How has it benefited them?
AIKO: Well, obviously having happier, healthier workers is a good thing. And there have been several case studies proving that flexitime employees make fewer errors and are more effective.
GARY: Not to interrupt, but...
TUTOR: No, no. You aren’t interrupting. Go ahead.
GARY: I, I just wanted to point out that flexplace arrangements have demonstrated many of the same results.
TUTOR: Do tell.
GARY: Um...there aren’t as many studies out about flexplace, as it’s a more recent phenomenon. Increases in both wireless Internet access and laptop affordability have, you know, made working from different locations more practical.
GARY: So, since I didn’t have as many case studies to rely on, I went and interviewed several companies in London offering flexplace programs.
TUTOR: Great idea. And what did you find out?
GARY: Just, uh, that employers are overwhelmingly satisfied with how flexplace works. One manager told me that productivity in his office has nearly doubled since he decided to give his staff the option to work from home...or wherever.
AIKO: I sure wouldn’t mind working at cafes every day!
GARY: That makes two of us.
TUTOR: (Laugh) Well, it sounds like you both have a good handle on your material. Why don’t you send me a draft of your research report this week, and we’ll meet again next Wednesday so I can give you some feedback?
AIKO: All right.
GARY: I’m actually going to be away next week. I have a family wedding to attend in Dublin.
TUTOR: Let’s see...how about two weeks from today then?
GARY: I can do that. Aiko?
AIKO: No problem here. I’m flexible!