What Is a Flexible Work Arrangement? (With Benefits)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated January 14, 2023
Published September 7, 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Companies may increase employee flexibility as priorities at home change and technology permits employees to work in different ways. Flexible work arrangements can help individuals manage circumstances in their personal lives while still completing their work. Learning more about flexible schedules can help you determine if they would be of benefit to you and your organization. In this article, we answer the question "What is a flexible work arrangement?" and discuss the different types, explore the benefits of these arrangements, and list tips to help you execute them effectively.
What is a flexible work arrangement?
A flexible work arrangement is a schedule for individuals that differs from standard working hours. With flexible work schedules, employees have the option to complete tasks when they feel most productive, which can be outside of the standard 9-to-5 working hours. The type of flexible hours employees work vary depending on employee preference and manager approval.
Types of flexible work arrangements
Common types of flexible work arrangements companies offer to employees include:
Compressed workweek schedule
Employees allowed to participate in a compressed workweek have the opportunity to work only four days a week rather than five. They may choose to work 10 hours a day instead of eight, giving them a three-day weekend. Some employers allow employees to choose which three days they can have off if the company is open on the weekends.
Flextime is where employees might work different hours during the day. This helps if you have long workdays and the company needs coverage throughout the day. Companies might consider setting a baseline workday where you can work flexible hours within a certain time range. For example, a core schedule of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. could allow employees to work their hours or take a longer lunch break as long as they complete their work between those hours. Since most companies require at least a 30-minute lunch break, employees still take an official lunch.
Another method is to designate start and finish time ranges. Employees may sign in between 7 and 10 a.m. and finish between 3 and 6 p.m.
Reduced hours is a flexible arrangement similar to part-time work. Companies may offer you less than 40 hours a week for a period of time to accommodate your needs. This can be permanent or temporary, and it's often used for individuals with disabilities, health-related issues, or unexpected circumstances. Sometimes, the number of hours you work can affect your benefits enrollment, so be sure to check with your employer before requesting a reduced-hour arrangement.
Remote work or telecommuting is working from a location other than the office. Employees may work a majority of their hours remotely, or they can work a fully remote schedule. This means they can complete their work from home or wherever they choose, as long as they maintain constant contact with employees and employers via video or phone calls.
Related: The Benefits of Working From Home
Job sharing is a flexible arrangement where multiple people share the same role or job responsibilities. The employees may have a salary more aligned with part-time work. Each employer may decide how people in job-sharing roles receive benefits and what their schedules are. It is important that you communicate effectively and frequently in this type of arrangement so the transition of work between people can happen smoothly.
Annualized hours, otherwise known as banking of hours, is when an employee chooses the hours they work as long as they are within the set amount determined by the employer. This is an effective arrangement for companies that have busy and slow seasons, where employees work more during the busy months. In other scenarios, employees may work a combination of a compressed schedule and a flex schedule.
Gradual retirement is a flexible arrangement where an employer reduces the amount you work over time. For example, an employee working 40 hours a week might transition to 20 hours a week for a month and 10 for the following month prior to retirement. Typically, at the end of a career, this helps employees transition to retirement, ensuring that they have enough time to transition any of their work. Once you have fewer hours, you might use them to focus on training replacements, restructuring an organization, or offloading projects.
Leaves, or sabbaticals, are periods of time that an employee can take away from work without affecting their employment. Companies might offer paid, self-funded, and unpaid sabbaticals depending on their program. People may choose to take leave from a company for physical or mental health reasons, to pursue additional education, or to travel.
Benefits of flexible work arrangements
There are several advantages for companies that offer flexible work hours:
Attracting qualified candidates
Candidates often ask potential employers about their benefits before accepting job offers. The option for flexible work arrangements can convince them that a company is a good fit, especially if they have certain circumstances at home. For some employees, a flexible schedule can be more important than a salary. New parents, people caring for their parents, and people with weekend responsibilities may desire this arrangement.
Managing schedules better
Flexible work schedules allow people to manage their personal responsibilities with more ease. For example, an employee with a compressed arrangement may schedule all of their appointments on one day and work extra hours on the other four days. This also encourages workers to maintain organized work schedules and communicate frequently about any changes.
Maintaining satisfied employees
A flexible work arrangement can keep employees satisfied. Work-life balance is an important part of many people's careers, and a company that shows they accommodate individual needs can improve morale. A flexible schedule builds trust between supervisors and their employees, which can motivate employees to perform better.
Encouraging diverse lifestyles
Flexible arrangements can encourage diversity, as every person has different responsibilities in their personal lives. Income levels, family dynamics, and location are all factors that affect where a person may work. Offering flexible schedules at a steady job can make opportunities more accessible.
Some flexible arrangements can lower costs for a company. For example, job sharing or reduced hours can ensure a company has the exact amount of labour needed to finish tasks. With these, a company can plan their resources and save money on office space, equipment, and salary without sacrificing the quality of work.
Tips for managing a flexible work arrangement
Follow the tips below to ensure your flexible work schedules are well-managed:
Hold a meeting to discuss the new schedule
Before implementing a flexible work schedule, hold a meeting between employees and their managers, as well as employees and other team members. During this meeting, attendees discuss their plan for working these flexible hours. Employers can also use this meeting to discuss their rules and guidelines for employees participating in a flexible schedule.
Some employers extend guidelines for employees to follow, like regularly notifying managers of their schedule, making sure they work in the office on certain days of the week, and promising to consistently meet deadlines. They may also address any questions employees have about the flexible work schedule during this meeting.
Plan your work schedule around meetings
If you're planning a different flexible work schedule each week, try to plan it according to your weekly meetings. For example, if you have a meeting at 4 p.m., ensure that your flexible schedule allows you to be in the office attending this meeting unless your supervisor allows you to attend through a phone or video call. This enables you to be present for meetings that require your input or that contain important information you need to know.
Specify your upcoming deadlines
As you build your flexible schedule for the week, note your deadlines for each project. As a result, you can plan your schedule as you complete the more strenuous or time-consuming tasks within the project whenever and wherever you feel most productive. Calculate how many hours it might take to complete tasks and make sure you have enough time to meet deadlines on a flexible schedule.
Keep team members in mind when making your schedule
A challenging aspect of working a flexible schedule is collaborating with team members. If you choose to work a flexible schedule that involves others being in the office when you're remote, regularly check with them to remain collaborative and productive, especially if you're working on a team project or job sharing. You can also work with them as you build your flexible schedule to make sure you're in the office when they are a few days a week. Communicate frequently about any schedule changes.
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