“He actually talked me into this teleworking situation,” Dresen said.
These days, Dresen works for the Arlington-based foreign language translation company from home on a part-time basis. That set-up, she said, has allowed her to keep her skills fresh, maintain her contacts in the industry and meet the demands of her family life.
“For someone in my situation, it’s ideal,” Dresen said.
Dresen is among a large group of Washington area workers who are not content to make their personal lives fit in around the fringes of a rigidly defined nine-to-five work schedule.
A recent survey conducted by The Washington Post
found that 88 percent of workers in the region say that workplace flexibility is important to them, a figure which equals the percentage identifying health care benefits as important to their job. Flexibility was more valuable to employed respondents than having a chance for a promotion or being recognized for professional accomplishments.
Local workers seem hungry for the opportunity to build a work schedule that is compatible with their lifestyle.
At a time when many employers are acutely focused on retaining top talent, human resource experts say that being attuned to these values and accommodating them can better position a company to hang onto its employees.
Mortgage giant Freddie Mac said recruitment and retention goals played a role in its decision to offer flexible work arrangements.
“In order to be competitive from a talent acquisition perspective, we have to offer this,” said Kristin Talastas, Freddie Mac’s senior director of human resources.
Even then, the McLean-based firm faced a key obstacle.
“There was a feeling that you could only telecommute or work away from the office if your particular [boss] was supportive of it,” Talastas said.
So, about 18 months ago, the company decided to standardize its previously ad-hoc flexible work offerings to make them fair and consistent for all employees.
Still, the human resources team acknowledged that simply putting such a policy in place wouldn’t necessarily mean that employees would take advantage of it.
“We knew that we really had to start at the top,” said Zenia Raudsepp, vice president of human resources. “Flexible work arrangements had to be fully endorsed by our CEO and our senior management team.”
With support from then-chief executive Charles E. “Ed” Haldeman Jr. and later from current chief executive Donald H. Layton, more staffers have adopted alternative work arrangements.
Freddie Mac offers a variety of flexible work opportunities, including telecommuting, part-time scheduling and varied arrival or departure times. It also has what it calls a “compressed work week” option, which means that an employee fits 10 days of work into nine days, thereby allowing them to take every 10th day off.