Write My Paper Button

WhatsApp Widget

Case Incident 1 The Pursuit of Happiness: Flexibility This exercise contributes to : Learning Objective s: Summarize the relationship between attitudes and behavior; Compare and contras

Case Incident 1

The Pursuit of Happiness: Flexibility

This exercise contributes to :

Learning Objective s: Summarize the relationship between attitudes and behavior; Compare and contrast the major job attitudes;

Summarize the main causes of job satisfaction

Learning Outcome : Explain the relationship between personality traits and individual behavior

AACSB : Reflective thinking

The mana gement team at Learner’s Edge, an online continuing education company, decided to adopt a ROWE

(results -only work environment) policy, developed by Best Buy employees and summarized in its slogan,

“Work whenever you want, wherever you want, as long as the work gets done.” Kyle Pederson was one of only

three Learner’s Edge employees who showed up the first day of the experiment. And the second day, and the


“For almost a month, everyone cleared out,” Pederson said. “It was just me, my co -founder and our executive

director all wondering, ‘What on earth have we done?’”

Clearly, they were testing the outer limits of workplace flexibility, from which even Best Buy pulled back when

it recently canceled the program. But while Best Buy faced reported conti nuing financial woes, employers like

Learner’s Edge report “better work, higher productivity” after the initial phase of a ROWE program. Employees

have learned the ways they work best. In fact, some of Pederson’s employees have returned to the office, whil e

others gath er at Starbucks or over dinner… whatever gets the work done.

Suntell president and chief operating officer, Veronica Wooten, whose risk management software firm adopted

the ROWE program a few years ago, is also a fan of the flexible workplace. “We made the transition, and

started letting go and letting people make their own decisions,” Wooten says. Her company’s customer base

increased 20 percent, meetings were reduced by 50 percent, and expenses decreased 12 percent (Wooten used

the savings to give everyone a raise).

It seems that everyone should be happy with this degree of job flexibility, from the night -owl employee to the

board of directors. But happiness, like job satisfaction, is a complex construct.

Employees worldwide do seem to incr easingly value flexible work environments, with roughly two of three

workers of all ages wanting to work from home, at least occasionally. Eighty percent of the U.S. female labor

force finds a flexible work schedule very or extremely important, 58 percent rate work -life balance as their

number one goal, and flexibility is the single most important part of that balance for them. Southeast Asian

employees are most interested in flexibility, while workers in North America, Europe, and the Australia/New

Zealand region place flexibility in their top three wants.

Yet research correlates job satisfaction most strongly with the nature of the work itself, not where it is

performed. Thus, while as employees we say we want flexibility, what actually makes us satisfie d is often

something else. Then there are the costs of such work arrangements. Employers like Google’s Melissa Mayer

are concerned that flexible workers will become detached from the organization, communicate less, be less

available, and lose the benefits of teamwork. Employees have similar concerns: Will out of sight mean out of

mind? International research suggests that employee and employer happiness depends on correctly motivating

the individual. For ROWE or any flexible arrangement to work, companies n eed to create clear job descriptions,

set attainable goals, and rely on strong metrics to indicate productivity. Managers need to foster close

connections and communicate meaningfully to keep flexible workers engaged in the company, its culture, and

its pr ocesses. And employees need to get the work done, no matter where and when they do it.

Sources: “2013 Women’s Research Reveals How to Make Women Happy (In the Workplace),” Accenture , http://www.accenture.com/us -en/pages/insight -what -means – have -all.aspx ( March 1, 2013); L. Belkin, “Is ROWE The Future of Work? Or An Unworkable Fantasy? ” The Huffington Post Business (April 17, 2013), http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/15/rowe -future -work_n_3084426.html; R. R. Hastings, “Full Engagement Lacking Around Worl d,” Society for Human Resources Management (January 3, 2011), http://www.shrm.org/hrdisciplines/employeerelations/articles/Pages/FullEngagementLacking.aspx; A. McGrory -Dixon, “Workplace Flexibility, Equity Important for Millennials,” Benefits Pro (April 19 , 2013), http://www.benefitspro.com/2013/04/19/workplace -flexibility -equity – important -for-millenn; and F. Origo and L. Pagani, “Workplace Flexibility and Job Satisfaction: Some Evidence from Europe,” International Journal of Manpower 29 (2008), pp. 539 –-566.


3-1. Do you think that only certain individuals are attracted to flexible work arrangements (FWAs) ? Why or

why not?

3-2. What characteristics of FWAs might contribute to increased levels of job satisfaction?

3-3. How do you see FWAs affecting a company’s bottom line ?

Scroll to Top