Original Research

To flex or not to flex? Flexible work arrangements amongst software developers in an emerging economy

Wilhelmus J. Conradie, Jeremias J. de Klerk
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 17 | a1175 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v17i0.1175 | © 2019 Wilhelmus J. Conradie, Jeremias J. de Klerk | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 February 2019 | Published: 12 November 2019

About the author(s)

Wilhelmus J. Conradie, University of Stellenbosch Business School, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Jeremias J. de Klerk, University of Stellenbosch Business School, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa


Orientation: Professional workers increasingly have the ability to do their work outside normal working hours, while being away from the workplace or from the comfort of their homes. Advancements in technology have made flexible work arrangements (FWAs) much easier and viable for corporates to consider.

Research purpose: Although research mostly confirms the benefits of FWAs, research on the outcomes of FWAs is somewhat inconclusive and sometimes contradicting, both within and across developed and emerging economies.

Motivation for the study: It is important to advance our understanding of the use of FWAs and their outcomes so that organisations in emerging economies have a valid basis for considering the implementation of FWAs.

Research approach/design and method: This study applied survey-based research to investigate the use and outcome of two of the most common FWAs – flexible working-time hours and telecommuting – amongst software developers in an emerging economy.

Main findings: The results indicate that employers in South African software development sector have largely adopted FWAs, and that developers use flexible working arrangements and perceive them to be beneficial for themselves and their organisations. The study results confirm that FWAs do not correlate with fewer working hours but do correlate with increased levels of both engagement and performance.

Practical/managerial implications: The findings are important in the light of critical shortage of and the resulting high pressure on software developers. Employers in emerging economies such as South Africa could seriously consider implementing FWAs, can probably do so with confidence and are likely to receive support from their staff.

Contribution/value-add: The findings of this study are significant because they confirm that the workplace flexibility provided by FWA is effective, also in a developing economy such as South Africa.


engagement; flexible work arrangements; flexitime; performance; telecommute


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