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While our most recent blog articles on the employee and manager perspective of a flexible work scheduled focused on working from home, there are many common arrangements being used today. Organizations need to carefully weigh each option’s opportunities and challenges prior to implementation, as not every position is suited to accommodate a flexible work arrangement.
Telecommuting options fall into three tiers: an employee who works from home or a satellite office all the time, some of the time, or only during emergency situations. The employee completes his/her work remotely via telecommunication methods.
- Opportunities: Employees can work virtually anywhere and any time of the day, giving the employer greater flexibility in meeting customer demands in a global market. The employee can chose to work during the times he/she is most productive. It can reduce relocation expenses or retain a key employee moving to another state. Allows the company to maintain business during emergency situations.
- Challenges: Employees do not meet daily at a common workspace, which can create unique team dynamics. The company will need to invest in technology resources to keep employees connected (i.e. mobile phones, laptops, internal database, etc.) and confidential company data secure. Remote employees can feel forgotten or skipped over for promotions because they are not on-site.
Employees work a full 40-hour week, but can flex their start and/or end times from normal company work hours to meet personal or family needs. Employees with flextime may be expected to hold standard “office hours” to meet internal and external customers needs, but may meet their set hours at the times most convenient for their schedule.
- Opportunities: Employee productivity increases and absenteeism decreases as employees can manage personal needs away from the office when necessary and concentrate when in the office.
- Challenges: Managing manager and employee perceptions when the individual is not available on-site. Company expectations must be clearly communicated to ensure customer’s needs are met.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies part time as working fewer than 35 hours per week. Part time can be a long-term solution, a phase-in program for individuals returning to work after a disability or a phase-out program for individuals wanting to work few hours leading up to retirement.
- Opportunities: Retain key employees and their knowledge base as they manage personal needs. Diversifies the candidate pool to attract individuals who prefer to work fewer hours, such as college students, working mothers or individuals with disabilities.
- Challenges: Benefit eligibility requirements may need to be redesigned or considered prior to implementing. Training programs may need to be restructured to allow part-time employees adequate time to learn and retain critical information. Respecting the reduction in work assignments for individuals adjusting from full-time to part-time status.
Employees work a full-time workweek in fewer days than in a traditional work environment. For example, employees may work four 10-hour days or three 12-hour days. Some companies utilize this program to offer employees summer hours.
- Opportunities: Employees receive an additional day(s) during the week to attend to personal needs. The company may consider becoming a four-day workweek operation to reduce utilities and overhead.
- Challenges: Employees safety may be at risk with longer daily hours. Balancing customer needs and employee work schedules.
Two part-time employees share the work of one full-time position. Opportunities and challenges are similar to part-time work.
- Opportunities: An organization can offer part-time work and still receive the results of a full-time position.
- Challenges: Employees in a job-sharing program must communicate and be highly compatible. Plans must be developed to address each employee’s responsibility when the other is absent.
As always,if you are interested in learning more about flexible work arrangements and how to incorporate them into your organization.