If you want employees who are less stressed, more productive and actively engaged, the No.1 perk you can offer them is the flexibility to work from home, says Peter Hirst, the associate dean of executive education at MIT Sloan School of Management.
Hirst has seen the benefits firsthand because all of his employees are allowed to work remotely.
He explains that this "tool" not only increases the organization's agility as a business, but it also offers his team the ability to "have more control over how and when they work in order to achieve outcomes that we're looking for."
The dean first implemented the policy at MIT in 2016 after a growing number of employees expressed interest in a more flexible work environment. In response, he sat down with his team to define what flexibility meant to them: Was it how they worked? When they worked? Or where they worked?
"In reality, it turned out to be a mix of all of those things," Hirst tells CNBC Make It. So together, he and his team created ground rules on how they wanted to operate. First, employees were given the ability to work from home, which ultimately saved MIT office space and the costs associated with it. Next, they agreed to make a concerted effort not to send or respond to emails after hours unless it was deemed urgent, a mandate that even media mogul Arianna Huffington uses with her employees.
Hirst also made it a priority to ensure that every job in the office had some flexibility. For example, even employees whose jobs require that they be in the office can work from home at least one or two days a week on average.
But even with this push for remote work, the dean says that having a face-to-face interaction with colleagues remains important. As a result, the team comes into the office on Wednesdays for a group meeting. "That gives us a day that we can organize," he says and it also keeps a "social cohesion."
Employees who can't physically be in the office that day for whatever reason are able to participate fully through a video conference.