business woman having work conference call from home while cooking mealIn part one of this article we looked at the one thing workers want and need most: flexibility. In fact, data from shows that 73 percent of working adults agree that flexibility is “one of the most important factors they consider when looking for a new job or deciding what company to work for.”

San Francisco recently implemented the Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance, giving working parents and caretakers the option of requesting a more flexible working schedule, and Vermont also passed a similar law.

Read on to discover what else China Gorman, CEO of Great Place to work,  had to say about the new ordinance and the benefits of flexible working conditions:

1. Do you foresee any complications with companies implementing such an ordinance? For example, negatively affecting productivity?

Providing flexibility will not inherently cause workers to be less productive. Most of the companies that are recognized on our lists go to great lengths to provide flexibility to their workers, and these are companies that also tend to be highly successful in their industries from a productivity standpoint.

The complication I can foresee is that there will be employers that do not embrace the spirit of this legislation, which is to acknowledge and support working parents and caregivers as whole people who have non-negotiable responsibilities outside of work.  Because there is an “out” for employers built into the ordinance, its success relies in part upon employers adopting this mindset.

Our 25 years of research shows very clearly that the more we can appreciate our employees as whole people who have lives outside of work—whether they are parents or not—the more likely they will be to experience the company as a great workplace, which has tremendous benefits to the company. This way of thinking is standard among great workplaces, but it will be a shift in mindset for some employers.

2. Your company believes that “trust is the single most important ingredient in making a workplace great.” Does trust factor into allowing employees to have more flexible schedules?

Yes, absolutely. Trust is at the heart of any successful workplace endeavor, and workplace flexibility is no exception. As employers, we trust employees with important information and responsibilities on a daily basis. We trust employees to carry out the work of our companies, to represent our brands, to handle clients, products, finances, etc.

In offering flexible scheduling options, it’s the job of the employer to trust that employees will not abuse the new ordinance, and it’s the responsibility of the employee not to abuse it. Failure to do so would result in the same sort of outcome as any other workplace scenario where trust is broken, on either side of the relationship. By the same token, managing this new ordinance with trust as a guiding principle will go a long way toward ensuring its success. China Gorman

3. I’m an employed worker and I like the idea of the Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance. Is there anything I can do to bring this ordinance to my city of residence?

Our website provides valuable information on the business benefits of a great workplace, and workplace flexibility is a big component of creating that reality for folks. Gathering this sort of evidence and organizing support for such an ordinance for consideration by your city council would be a place to start.

4. Final thoughts?

Our mission at Great Place to Work is to build a better society by helping companies to transform their workplaces. Through our lists, conferences, consulting services, and more, we work in more than 40 countries around the world to help organizations understand the importance of creating a great workplace and transform their cultures. Providing workplace flexibility when possible is a very big step toward enabling more employees to have a great experience of their workplace. It’s inspiring for us to see these sorts of efforts taking place at this broad level.

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