With Flextime, Bosses Prefer Early Birds to Night Owls, by Christopher M. Barnes, Kai Chi Yam and Ryan Feh, Harvard Business Review, 5/12/14.
Research shows that in general, flexible work practices lead to increased productivity, higher job satisfaction, and decreased turnover intentions.
(Flextime programs have never been more popular than they are today. Google allows many employees to set their own hours. At Microsoft, many employees can choose when to start their day, as long as it’s between 9am and 11am. At the “Big Four” auditing firm KPMG, some 70 percent of employees work flexible hours.)
Yet the question lingers of whether employees who take advantage of flexible work policies incur career penalties for doing so. As noted in a recent paper by Lisa Leslie and colleagues, the evidence is mixed. Their research explored a potential reason for the widely varying outcomes: managers might look upon flextime favorably when they perceive a worker is using it to achieve higher productivity, and unfavorably when they perceive it being used to accommodate personal-life demands. Leslie et al. make the case that depending on what the manager attributes the flextime use to, the employee may be either rewarded or penalized.