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Are flexible workers happier?

November 2007 - This quarter, we asked respondents to tell us what arrangements they had in place around flexible working.

The table below shows the relationship between the availability of a range of flexible working practices and the happiness of those who enjoy them. Some 70% of our respondents claimed to have access to some form of flexible working arrangements.

Benefit % of respondents benefiting % of those benefiting who are happy at work
Flexible daily working hours/flexitime 40% 82%
Time off for family commitments 29% 89%
Reduced working hours 17% 82%
Opportunity to work at home occasionally 16% 83%
Opportunity to work at home occasionally (at least once per month) 12% 90%
Compressed hours 9% 72%
None of the above 30% 73%

What's clear is that employees who feel they have some flexibility around their working hours are more likely to be happy at work. This does not necessarily have to be a formal, contractual arrangement. Indeed the highest happiness scores were for two fairly ill-defined benefits: the opportunity to work at home occasionally; and, time off for family commitments.

What isn't clear, of course, is the how often employees take advantage of these arrangements or whether the mere fact that they have the option open to them is sufficient to influence happiness at work.