Your mind could have drifted thousands of miles away, but as long as your body showed up to work at Dallas-based tax firm Ryan, that was all that mattered. “We literally ranked people by hours,” says Delta Emerson, president of Ryan’s global shared services. “Even if someone worked 24 hours the day before, they still had to book at least eight hours Monday through Friday.” The clock was seen as an easy proxy for work ethic, and employees who logged marathon sessions at their desks “wore their hours like a badge, practically tattooed on their foreheads,” Emerson says. “But it was at a cost.”
Emerson didn’t want to just tweak the workweek. She wanted to bust it open. But when she pitched the idea of flexible hours, she was almost thrown out of the CEO’s office. A resignation letter from a rising star finally got her the green light. Now the firm measures results–not time. Some staffers work as little as 20 hours a week; some start at 7 a.m., others at 10 a.m.; some commute to the office only twice a week. Since the 2008 shift, revenue has grown 15 percent year over year, customer satisfaction is higher than ever before, and turnover has plummeted.