Defining Flexible Work Arrangements
Flexible work arrangements come in a variety of configurations.
For example, AARP has found innovative arrangements among its Best Employers for Workers Over 50 award recipients.
- WVU Hospitals: Flexible scheduling options have been implemented so employees do not have to work consistent days throughout the week, and employees also have the option of changing their shift hours in the winter months because of difficult driving conditions.
- Mercy Health System: Flextime, compressed work schedules, telecommuting and a formal phased-in retirement program are offered to employees working 20-plus hours per week.
In fact, the majority of the 50 Best Employer winners allow for some sort of alternative scheduling arrangements. To see more information about the 2013 winners, go to www.aarp.org/bestemployers.
But, generally, flexible work arrangements essentially mean four things:
- When to work. This includes flextime, in which employees have flexible start and stop times or take time off during the day, but still work a regular 35- to 40-hour work week. (Some companies require all employees to be at work during certain core hours.) Other options are compressed work weeks, where (for example) instead of working five days a week, employees work four 10-hour days; part-time work, which could mean reduced weekly or annual hours; seasonal work i.e. clocking in just six months of the year, such as during the busy winter season in Florida. Still more FWAs include summers off, weekends only, or even three months on, three months off.
- Where to work. Options include telecommuting, or working from home either all week or part of the week, or working in more than one location if an employer has more than one office or branch.
- How to work. This might be job sharing, which means splitting one job between two employees, with salary and benefits prorated; phased retirement or cutting back on hours over a period of time before fully retiring, often continuing to receive pension or health care benefits; temporary, contract, or even per diem work.
- What to receive for working. This involves choosing specific benefits, whether it's for childcare or eldercare, for instance, or a flexible spending account. Benefits depend on an employee's needs and stage of life.
The Workplace Flexibility 2010 initiative offers more definitions of flexible work arrangements, along with a wealth of resources. Also make sure to view AARP resources including Life Reimagined for Work and Best Employers for Workers Over 50.