“Imagine unlimited paid vacation and sick leave, with no mandated office hours. Chaos, right? Not according to a handful of award-winning employers profiled in a new report on effective workplaces.” Writes Katherine Reynolds Lewis of Fortune Magazine.

Because of the recession, global economy and technology work has become more demanding and companies have begun to deal with these issues by loosening the reigns slightly. While some companies offer more flexible working hours, others are offering incentives and rewards based on results rather than time spent in the office.

An excerpt from Forbes magazine uses the following example;

Take Ryan, a tax services firm based in Dallas. A few years ago, a resignation letter from a rising star in the company prompted CEO G. Brint Ryan to reevaluate the firm’s focus on long hours and face time.

The result: MyRyan, a software package that displays the performance objectives that truly matter for each employee and the team, whether it’s revenue targets, 360 review scores, customer service ratings, or other things. Ryan employees no longer need to account for their time – as with MeetingMatrix, staffers can take unlimited paid vacation and sick days.

“Hours no longer are the key focus,” says Delta Emerson, a senior vice president at Ryan. When the compensation committee met this year to evaluate performance and decide on pay raises, employee hours were not even mentioned.

Voluntary turnover at Ryan decreased to 6.5% from 18.5%, and involuntary turnover (in other words, firing poor performers) increased to 6.9% from 4.3%. Despite the recession, the firm posted record profits and revenue in both 2009 and 2010. “In the past, somebody who was putting in a ton of hours could be performing poorly, but the hours would carry them. That no longer happens,” Emerson says.

To be sure, it’s a greater responsibility to ensure that you meet your job objectives than to simply be expected to place your body in an office chair for eight hours. Ryan employees are expected to understand the demands that flexibility places on them. You can’t just direct people to call you if anything pops up.

Some companies take a different approach to the always-on nature of flexible work by establishing an e-mail policy that responses should only be expected during business hours.

Whatever your policy may be, with the right training, you can start to break the habit of equating hours worked with productivity.