Career Advice Career Guidance and Counselling

Flexing forwards

When the CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, ordered employees earlier this year to work back in the office instead of telecommuting, it made headlines around the world.

The reaction was mixed. While she was criticised by certain business luminaries, notably Sir Richard Branson, she was applauded by a number of business academics. These academics pointed out that bringing disengaged staff back to the office was the only way to drive an underperforming and underachieving Yahoo back onto the road to success.

The annual Hays Salary Guide found that 52 per cent of employers across Asia offer some form of flexible work practices. These included telecommuting or "flex-place" options, part-time employment, flexible working hours, flexible leave, job sharing, career breaks and phased retirement.

While flexible work was once pretty much the exclusive domain of employees with care-giving responsibilities, today a wider range of employees want access to flexible work arrangements for a greater number of reasons.

Employees are more likely to be productive and engaged with their work when they are able to balance the demands of work with other aspects of their lives. Improvements in physical and mental health are also associated with workplace flexibility.

Through offering flexible work, employers are looking to attract and retain talented employees and increase staff engagement. Employees, in turn, can boost their career prospects by proving that they can take advantage of flexible work arrangements to become better and more productive workers.

Marc Burrage, regional director of Hays in Hong Kong