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find it difficult to be productive in
such a cacophonous environment.
Recognition of this has led to some
very vocal backlash. A recent
Washington Post essay proclaimed that
the “open-office trend is destroying the
workplace,” while the Huffington Post
advised that it’s “time to rethink open
Facebook, eBay, Goldman Sachs and
American Express leading the charge.
Currently, 70 percent of U.S.
employees work in offices with
open floor plans, according to the
International Facilities Management
Association in Houston. But while
some employees revel in the energy
2Mixing Up the Environment Dreams of inhabiting “the corner office” have gone by the
wayside for many corporate-ladder
climbers, as the open-office movement
has permeated corporate America. An
array of progressive and traditional
companies have embraced the open-
office concept, with Google, Yahoo!,
Those team members who
take advantage of such flexible
arrangements rank higher in terms of
engagement on the company’s annual
Tell Dell pulse survey, says Prahl. They
also tend to rank Dell as a “great place
to work.” According to Prahl, that ties
directly to productivity and retention,
along with improved business and
At Newark, N.J.-based Prudential
Financial Inc., an array of alternative
work arrangements are available
through the company’s Business-Based Flexibility Program,
according to Maureen Corcoran,
vice president of health, life and
inclusion for the corporate human
resources department. While flexible
arrangements have been granted on an
informal basis for three decades, the
program was formalized in 1998, giving
employees widespread access to a
number of options, including flextime,
telecommuting, compressed work
weeks, part-time work, job-sharing or
any combination thereof.
Employees who want to work
an alternative arrangement make
the case to their supervisor either
in writing or verbally, depending on
that specific supervisor’s preference.
Ninety percent of the U.S. workforce
sets its own start and end times, while
81 percent of the workforce works
remotely at least once a month. Ten
percent work a compressed work
schedule (e.g., four 10-hour days,
rather than five eight-hour days), while
4 percent work part-time. According
to Corcoran, a “huge percentage” of
workers cite the company’s alternative
work arrangements as productivity
boosters in its annual employee survey.
What’s more, she adds, when you
consider “the fact that arrangements
are granted so frequently, obviously
bosses aren’t finding them as
impediments to productivity.”
It’s not revolutionary;
it’s simply “the way
people work today.”
—CHERYL PRAHL, DELL