Business Report: Perks That Work

Flexible benefits are taking some interesting new twists, and turning a profit from employee loyalty

Though she enjoyed her job as a quality consultant for Hewlett-Packard, Shelley Comes, 47, was thinking seriously in 1995 about leaving it. Comes was concerned about her 74-year-old mother, who has a heart condition and diabetes and was living all alone on a remote farm five hours away. Then Comes learned that HP was offering telecommuting as an option to its employees. She told her boss she would like to give that elective a whirl. She struck a deal to work three weeks a month from the family farm in Garberville, Calif., and one week from her Mountain View office; then...

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