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The Thrill Is Gone: Is the Workplace Becoming Less Flexible? | The Low Down

25 June 2014—Stephen Sweet, a sociologist at the Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College is mentioned on by Jonathan Low.


In today’s age of connectivity, such arrangements might seem commonplace. But while more employers say they are offering flexible work arrangements — like working from home, starting and ending the days a bit earlier or later — they are still typically offered only to certain employees, and are often informally negotiated with a sympathetic manager, workplace experts say.

“A lot of the existing research assumes companies are flexible if they report that they are. The reality is very different,” said Stephen Sweet, a sociologist at the Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College and co-author of a recent study on flexible work arrangements. His study, of 545 employers, found that only 20 percent of companies offered a variety of flexible options to most of their workers.

Beyond reported increases in telecommuting and flexible work schedules, recent studies show that more employers are cutting back programs that would allow workers to reduce hours to better manage the care of, say, an ill parent. Employers have also cut back the length of leave to new fathers and adoptive parents, and reduced pay given to birth mothers on leave. And fewer employers are encouraging supervisors to assess workers’ performance by what they accomplish, instead of resorting to measures like hours worked or face time...

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