Flexible Work Options

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Creating Flexible Work Options for Employees



Types of Flexible Work Arrangements

Benefits for Employers

Benefits for Employees

Questions to Consider

Resources for Further Information

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Both large and small businesses are discovering that flexible work options not only benefit today's diverse working populations, but benefit employers and their business operations as well.

Employers, including those that face labor shortages or experience problems with employee recruitment, retention, absenteeism, and job satisfaction, are recognizing the advantages of offering employees alternative work arrangements whenever possible.

For many workers, including potential workers with disabilities, the traditional fixed five-day-a-week work schedule may be difficult or prohibitive due to commuting problems, personal or family medical needs, work-family conflicts, daycare, elder care, and other personal circumstances.  For a growing number of workers, and potential workers, a "binding" work schedule and work location can pose substantial hurdles to employment.  However, by companies implementing job schedule and location flexibility, and by using available telecommunications technology, job needs and demands can often be met, and a win-win situation can prevail for both employers and employees.

The following presents a brief overview of flexible work options, identifies benefits to employers and employees, and provides a framework for determining if, and how, flexible work arrangements can be implemented and offered in your workplace.  Resources for additional information on this topic are provided as well.

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Types of Flexible Work Arrangements


Job Sharing:   A full-time position is split between two co-workers by mutual 
agreement, and benefits are given in proportion to the number of hours each 
person works.

Fixed FlexChoice:   Employees choose from among fixed, alternative work 

Period FlexChoice:   Fixed hours are chosen by employees for a work period, 
but may vary from period to period.

Daily FlexChoice:   Starting and quitting times may vary each day.

Staggered FlexChoice:   Employees begin and quit at varied times.

Open FlexChoice:   Employees choose the combination of scheduled work 
hours that total the number of hours required each week.

Core FlexChoice:   Employees must be at work at specified "core" times, 
but other hours are flex-scheduled by employees.

Compressed Work Week:   Employees complete their weekly work hour
requirements in fewer than five days.

Non-paid Time:   Employees may take time off without pay as their work 
loads permit.

Comp Time:   Employees may add hours to their work schedule, during peak 
work periods, for example, that can later be used for compensatory time off.

Outcome-Based Schedule:   Employees are accountable for projects, work 
assignments, and tasks completed rather than for hours worked or time spent 



Telecommuting:   Employees work part of the work week at home, often via telecommunications.

Teleworking:   Employees conduct all work at home via telecommunications.

Telecommuting from Work Centers:   Employees work part of the week at 
local employer work centers via telecommunications.

Remote Work Centers:   Employees work at satellite work centers, maintained 
by the employer, to provide telecommuters (often in rural areas) office space and telecommunication resources.

Satellite Options:

Center houses telecommuters employed by one employer;

Center houses telecommuters employed by several employers
that maintain the center jointly;

A community center provides space and resources to 
telecommuters (from one or more employers) in a local area.

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Benefits for Employers

Flexible work...

Helps attract employees;

Increases the pool of potential quality workers, including workers with disabilities,
workers caring for a spouse, partner, parent, or child, workers living in distant
locations, workers with limited transportation, and others;

Improves employee productivity;

Reduces absenteeism;

Reduces employee leave-time due to work-family obligations and other personal

Improves customer service provided by front-line employees;

Improves employee morale and job satisfaction;

Provides potential for offering after-hour services to customers;

Improves employees' work quality and job performance;

Improves productivity by accommodating employees' "bioclocks" (periods of
energy and fatique);

Helps meet environmental requirements by reducing the number of employees

Reduces costs related to:

work space  (less is needed);

sick time  (less is used);

productivity  (employees are more productive);

resources  (less computer space and access are needed, for example);

increased hours of customer service;

employee safety  (fewer accidents at the job site and commuting);

environmental requirements  (reducing the number of commuters);

relocation of employees  (teleworking may avoid relocating workers).

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Benefits for Employees

Flexible work...

Provides opportunities for many individuals who desire to work, including individuals with disabilities, to become employed;

Enables care providers (people caring for spouses, partners, children, or parents)
the opportunity to work;

Enables individuals to attend to personal medical  or rehabilitative needs;

Enables working parents the opportunity to meet family needs and obligations;

Reduces absenteeism and use of sick leave;

Accommodates individual "bioclocks" (periods of energy and fatigue);

Improves job satisfaction and morale;

Reduces, eliminates, or improves commuting time;

Provides greater time flexibility;

Increases work productivity;

Improves work quality;

Reduces or eliminates interruptions experienced at the workplace;

Reduces job-related stress;

Provides greater employment-location flexibility (telecommuting and teleworking).


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Questions to Consider


Employee Job Tasks:

Can some or all job tasks be completed at another location?
Can some or all job tasks allow for work schedule flexibility?
Can some or all job tasks be grouped and scheduled for telecommuting days?

Personal Contact:

What percentage of the job requires onsite contact with other staff?  Customers?
Can all or some contact be accomplished via telecommunications?

Management Operations:

How much onsite supervision, oversight, or direction is needed?
Are employees able to work independently and be self-directive in 
   accomplishing their tasks?
Is management by objective possible?
Can employees' performance be evaluated in part by accomplishment of
   set objectives and tasks?

Project and Assignment Completion:

Are all or some job tasks project- or paperwork-oriented?  Telephone-oriented?
Can all or some projects, paperwork, or tasks be completed at home or be done 
   on telecommuting days?
How much supervisory oversight or assistance is needed?
Can supervisory direction and assistance be provided via telecommunications?
Can employee evaluations be based in part on objectives met?

Employee Compatibility - Telecommuting:

Do employees demonstrate an ability to work independently?
Do employees demonstrate self-motivation and self-direction?
Would telecommuting improve employee job satisfaction and morale?
Would telecommuting improve the quantity and quality of work performed?


Do employees have needed resources and equipment, or could they acquire
   resources and equipment to work at home?
Do employees have knowledge and skills in telecommunications, if needed?
Is physical access to needed resources only available onsite?  
Can resource use needed be done on non-telecommuting days?


Are job-related tasks or information confidential or require physical security?
Could encryption be used?
Could confidential documents or reports be submitted in person on non-
   telecommuting days?


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Resources for Further Information


Telecommuting:  A Manager's Guide to Flexible Work Arrangements,  by Joel 
Kugelmass (Senior Management Analyst), Lexington Books, 1995.

This book provides helpful information and guidance related to planning and
implementing flexible work options for employees.


Web Resources:

Telecommuting:  An Option for Workers with Disabilities - Oregon Office of Energy

Telework Services:  Case Studies, Guidebook, and Kit - Washington State University

Telecommuting Advisory Council

Teleworking for the Disabled

Types of Flexible Work Arrangements

Flextime and the Small Business

Flexible Work Schedules


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