When tackling employee satisfaction, MIT decided to skip salary bumps and workplace entertainment. Instead, they introduced a program that allows greater flexibility for when and how employees complete their work. The results of this program were overwhelmingly positive.
The findings were consistent with our Remote Workers Report. When you provide workers with flexibility, satisfaction goes up.
A big part of this is eliminating a grueling commute. Expensive, time-consuming commutes are among Americans’ most-hated activities and can lead to increased blood pressure, musculoskeletal problems, and higher levels of anxiety and hostility, according to Psychology Today. This is part of the reason why remote-worker programs lead to lower employee absenteeism.
So instead of pursuing costly salary increases or “fun activities” that wouldn’t necessarily appeal to everyone, MIT adopted a cost-free system that encouraged employees to work how and when they wanted.
Management laid out the following pilot program for 35 MIT employees, Harvard Business Review reported:
Six months later, they surveyed the employees in the pilot program. The results were unanimous — 100% said they would recommend the program to other employees. The lesser demands in terms of commuting proved to reduce stress and improve satisfaction.
Feelings of trust and respect among employees increased as well. Employees feel like competent professionals who aren’t being micromanaged. They’re able to make their own decisions about how and when to work. And that doesn’t lead to slacking off — our research found that 91% of remote workers believe they’re more productive at home than in the office.
Employers around the country are recognizing the value of flexible work. A Gallup poll found that 37% of all employees telecommute on a regular basis. In the past, it would've been difficult for most employees to work from home. But with the widespread availability of high-speed internet, cell phones, and other helpful technology, employers are realizing that employees can be just as productive outside the office.
Now the program has been in place for eighteen months. MIT hopes that in the long term it will lead to retention of valuable employees and provide a competitive advantage. Employees are increasingly interested in working from home, and now that they have the tools to do that, expect that the remote-workers trend will continue.