Benefits and Compensation

Types of Flexible Work Arrangements

Does your workplace offer any type of flexible work arrangements for employees? Or are your employees requesting more flexible options? With ever-improving technology, more and more jobs can be performed from any location, which opens up a lot of options for employers looking to provide this sought-after benefit for employees. What options are most common?

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Here’s a quick look at some of the flexible working arrangements offered by employers today:

  • Telecommuting or working remotely. With this type of flexible working arrangement, the employer does not dictate where the employee is located to do the work. Obviously this requires the type of job that can be done from anywhere (usually with the assistance of technology like VPNs to access the employer’s systems, video conferencing to join meetings, and mobile devices for portability). A remote working option could be implemented full-time, or it could be implemented for a specified number of days per week. Either way, the employees get the benefit of reduced commuting costs and have the flexibility of working from wherever they may be that day.
  • Shortened workweek through a compressed work schedule. This type of flexible arrangement allows employees to have longer consecutive periods off of work, and that flexibility can be beneficial for many. It works by compressing the work hours into fewer days, such as allowing individuals to work four 10-hour work days in a row and then take 3 days off. This might allow employees to have more time for personal pursuits or to save money on commuting costs and/or child care.
  • Adjusted work hours. This type of flexibility involves allowing employees to alter their work hours (usually within specified options) to better suit their needs. For example, an employer may allow employees to start their 8-hour workday any time between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. to accommodate those who have other activities that need to be accomplished in the morning. Or they may allow employees to take time out during the workday to attend to personal needs without penalty, as long as they complete the requisite number of agreed-upon hours for the day or week. Or the employer may have multiple set schedule options (typically done to ensure coverage during specific times), but still allow employees to choose which of the schedule options best fits their needs. Yet another option for employers is to allow the work to be done at any time that suits the employee, as long as all of the work gets done in a timely manner.
  • Part-time work. Part-time work can be a benefit for individuals who would prefer to work fewer total hours in a workweek. This is especially true if an employer opts to offer part-time employees some or all of the benefits that are available to full-time employees (as loss of benefits is one big reason that a lot of people do not look for part-time work, even if they could otherwise benefit from fewer hours.)
  • Job sharing. Though perhaps less common than some of the other options on this list, job sharing is another avenue to allow some flexibility for employee schedules. As the name implies, this is where a single full-time job is shared between two or more employees. The details can be worked out on an individual basis, but each person only works a portion of the workweek. In practice, this results in a similar situation to having a part-time job, but there are additional benefits for the employer in some cases, such as the ability to have built-in coverage for when one of the individuals is away from work. Administration and fairness to each employee can be more difficult to manage, however, since both employees must be responsible for the same workload.
  • Vacation time flexibility. Headlines keep popping up reminding us that more organizations are trying the idea of unlimited vacation time. This type of arrangement usually is set up with specific requirements that must be met before vacation can be taken—such as being caught up on work or having a continuation plan in place for ongoing work. Usually the organization will need to have a culture that rewards employees for doing their job well, regardless of how many hours the individual is at the workplace.

There are benefits for both employers and employees when using flexible working arrangements. For example, with staggered work start times, the employer may benefit from having employees working for a longer part of the day, thus being available for customers for longer. Employers may also benefit from improved job satisfaction of employees, less burnout, and reduced turnover that may result.