Flex Work Becoming Better Option In Houston

It's been a slow process, but more and more companies in Houston are allowing flexible work schedules. The city is considered a leader in the move to allow employees more say in when and how they work. Jack Williams reports.
At last check, 43 Houston companies have programs that allow employees flexible work schedules. That might mean working from home, working a four day week or a part-time schedule that fits into family life better.

Shinea Chun is director of the Women's Bureau at the U.S. Department of Labor.

"The flex-option is kind of an important issue, particularly for generations X and Y, young people who are very into balancing work and family responsibility."

She says advances in technology have made the commute to the office needless for some workers who have jobs that can be done just as well from home.

"When you have a Continental Airlines reservation center, what difference is it to do it in the office with 1200 people or an office in your home. It's quiet and more productive and more focused. So it's all about the productivity. And you also have an employee who is happy, loyal and liking what they do."

Houston Mayor Bill White has been a champion of flexible work schedules. He's encouraged employers to at least consider flex schedule options for employees. Dr. Carol Lewis works for the mayor and says it's more than just about quality of life.

"Employers see that people who get to flex have better work-life balance. They actually increase productivity. Retention is higher and then you end up with the added benefit of air-quality improvements and being green and saving on fuel. There are just a number of reasons to embrace flexible workplace initiatives."

Flexible work schedules have been around for decades, but are just now starting to gain popularity. Jeff Wilkie works for the city of Tulsa, which is considering expanding its flex work options. He says it's not easy to change old work habits.

"One of the things that makes it really tough is it's mindset and you have to change your mindset when it comes to the workforce and really understanding that you've got these four generations at work and these four generations look at work so much differently and they look at the location of work so much differently. That I think is the biggest struggle, getting our baby boomers and our generations X and Y to really come to terms with what is the right option for them."

Big companies in Houston like JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Direct Energy and BMC software all have flex work options that hundreds of employees take advantage of each week.
Bio photo of Jack Williams

Jack Williams

Director of News Programming

News Director Jack Williams has been with Houston Public Radio since August of 2000. He's also a reporter and anchor for Houston Public Radio's local All Things Considered segments...