Case study

Think, Act, Report: IBM

Flexible working is a business imperative for IBM.


One of IBM’s core values is to create “Innovation that matters, for our company and for the world”. Diversity is critical for innovation and therefore we aim to create an environment where diversity and inclusion is an integral part of our cultural DNA - and a flexible approach to work is an essential part of this.

IBM offers a range of flexible working packages to all employees across all levels. Our Work Life programmes and Flexible Work Options help increase choice, reduce stress and enhance productivity.

Issue to be resolved

IBM’s workforce needs to be flexible enough to respond quickly and effectively to the changing needs of both customers and IBM. It allows us to solve skills shortages, increases our ability to operate 24/7 and helps to retain key staff with knowledge and client relationships. Our flexible working policy is not just about being nice to people, it is a business imperative.

Action taken

IBM’s flexible working policy offers a unified set of flexible working options to over 400,000 employees across multiple divisions, geographies and all major business units. This includes everything from standard part-time working to compressed hours, term-time working, job share, annualised hours, mobile working and working from home.

Aside from these formal arrangements, employees are also encouraged to adopt a flexible approach to working. A distinction is drawn between those on a formal flexible work contract and those who manage their working hours flexibly, eg working in the office on some days, at a client site or at home on other days - or perhaps working early in the morning or late in the evening to accommodate business or family commitments.

Flexible working is not just for parents and carers - all employees have things outside work they are passionate about and by allowing employees to manage their time, it can help increase satisfaction and drive employee engagement. Similarly, emergency situations can arise and allowing employees to take unscheduled time off is not only the ‘right thing to do’ but also helps drive employee loyalty.


Encouraging a culture of flexible working has enormous benefits, including better employee morale and engagement. It is highly valued by employees and a great retention tool. In our Global Work/Life Survey 80% of employees said that they feel in control of where, how and when they work.

Employees are further supported by access to emergency care provision for childcare and eldercare.

Published 4 November 2014