For some employees, flexible schedules can be a valued perk. David Kaufer, cofounder of Kaufer Miller Communications, a 27-person communications agency in the Seattle area, had an employee who was distressed about his long commute. Kaufer and the employee worked out a schedule that included four 10-hour workdays, with Fridays off, until the worker could find a closer residence. "He really appreciates the three hours a day he doesn't have to spend on I-5," says Kaufer. Kaufer also set up another employee with a home office, so she could move closer to her fiancé in southern Washington.
Even manufacturers can offer scheduling options, albeit within limits. At Autumn Harp, a 65-person manufacturer of skin care products in Bristol, Vt., founder Kevin Harper gives many employees the option to work one day a week at home. About 10% of his 65 employees take him up on the offer. Harper admits, though, that for certain positions, working at home is not feasible. "Production workers can't bring their machine home," he explains.
What could cost less -- and offer more flexibility -- than a casual dress code? At Half Price Books, a $56 million chain of discount bookstores that has its headquarters in Dallas, president Sharon Anderson Wright just asks that her employees wear clothing that is clean, untorn, and free of offensive slogans or graphics. "After a big debate, we decided they had to wear shoes," she says. Firmani, too, is sartorially permissive. His PR professionals usually wear jeans, sometimes sweats. All Firmani requires is that employees be within 15 minutes of wearing something presentable in case a client drops by. "I keep a suit here at the office," says Firmani. "Not that I wear it much."
This article was adapted from material that first appeared in Inc. magazine in November 1997.