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How to Make Workplace Flexibility Work for You | Talent Intelligence

8 April 2014—Center's workplace flexibility research was mentioned on talentintelligence.com.

Types of Flexibility

Up until this point we have focused quite a bit on telecommuting as it is one of the most popular and well-known workplace flexibility options, but for some companies and employees, telecommuting may not be a realistic option or may be only one of several options worth considering. In fact, one of the simplest, easiest, and most beneficial approaches to workplace flexibility is “flex time”.

Flex Time

The Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College is at the forefront of workplace flexibility. They define flex time as “schedules that vary from the standard work schedules of an organization that meet the needs of both the employer and the employee which are based on worker needs within set parameters approved by a supervisor.” The specifics of a given flex time arrangement depend upon the circumstances of both the company and the individual workers. Some companies establish core hours for which employees must be present, for example, 10am – 3pm, and require employees to be in the office 40 hours per week, allowing the individual employee to determine their own arrival and departure time. Other companies may eschew the “core hours” component while requiring employees to be present 40 hours per week at times completely of their own choosing. Another flex time option is the “compressed work week” under which, as an example, an employee might work four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days.

Flex time is a good workplace flexibility arrangement for firms where close collaboration and in-person meetings are indispensable, or where it is simply not feasible for employees to work remotely due to lack of technology or other constraints.

Reduced-Hours

Reduced-Hours includes arrangements such as voluntary part-time work where an employee chooses to work fewer than 35 hours per week even when full-time work is available and part-year work where an employee works only a certain number of months per year. Like other workplace flexibility options, reduced-hours arrangements are highly dependent upon the circumstances of the companies and the individuals seeking greater flexibility.

Voluntary part-time arrangements are highly sought after by new parents following maternity/paternity leave, workers dealing with the loss of a close family member, soon-to-be retirees, and employees seeking to further their education. There are of course a host of other motivating factors behind desire for voluntary part-time work, among them reducing work-family conflicts; the Sloan Center has found that 61% of younger people and 87% of older people find part-time work preferable though the degree of limited access to employer benefits may pose a challenge to them.

Part-year arrangements are common among teachers who take time off between terms, semi-retired accountants who take advantage of tax season between January and May, and professionals who otherwise work full-time but for a variety of reasons seek extended time off – for example to take care of their children on summer break or to visit family in another part of the world. Further to that point, part-year arrangements can serve as a beneficial workplace flexibility option for employees who have experienced a major life event such as births/adoptions or the death of a loved one. Like voluntary part-time work, the part-year option provides workers with the flexibility for family and leisure considerations while providing employers with the ability to attract high-level talent and retain top performers......

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