The popularity of flexible work arrangements is growing significantly, especially as many workers now regard a good work/life balance almost as highly as a good salary, while employers are also becoming increasingly aware of the benefits. But flexible work has numerous variations, each with its own set of pros and cons for employer and employee.
Read on to learn more about eight of the most significant flexible work arrangements or visit the ViewSonic workplace solutions page for digital display solutions that support productive work in the office, at home, or on the go.
More and more workers are seeking flexible working arrangements as they aim to strike the right balance between their work and personal life, and as technology has allowed different approaches to work to become more viable. For employers, it makes sense to try to embrace this demand for flexibility as it can not only help secure better candidates but also provide a number of performance benefits.
So what flexible working arrangements are companies currently utilizing? In this article, we take a closer look at eight flexible work arrangements, who they suit, and why employers may want to consider them.
1. Hybrid Work
While definitions can vary, hybrid work can be defined as a working arrangement where some staff will work on-site, some will work off-site via telecommuting or remote working, and others will have the freedom to work on-site on some days and off-site on others, based on circumstances, objectives, and personal preferences.
Hybrid work is one of the most flexible work arrangements, completely removing the concept of location by placing the importance on how employees work instead of where they work. Organizations that embrace the hybrid work concept will generally provide a variety of work arrangements for different employees within the same company, with a goal of creating a happier, harder-working workforce through greater autonomy and better well-being.
In some settings, this may also mean flexibility in terms of when work is done, as long as it is done before the agreed deadline. This can be especially useful for workers who feel at their most productive outside of the conventional working hours, those who prefer to perform high-focus tasks away from office distractions, or those who balance working life with other responsibilities such as care duties.
Telecommuting is the practice of working from outside of the employer’s office or physical workplace. Often it will mean working from home, but it could equally mean working from a public library, co-working space, coffee shop, or anywhere else with public wi-fi, depending on the devices available and the individual company policy.
For employers, the main challenge is providing access to the technology needed to carry out work and connect with colleagues while maintaining security and productivity. However, telecommuting can be an extremely effective arrangement and potential benefits include reduced absenteeism and improved morale.
One important thing to note is that, according to many definitions, while someone telecommuting will not be working from the physical workplace, they may still need to attend the workplace on occasions, such as for meetings or catch-up sessions. For this reason, telecommuting typically describes off-site work for people who live nearby.
3. Remote Work
The terms remote work and telecommuting are often used interchangeably, and there are no strict definitions separating the two concepts. However, remote work can differ from telecommuting in terms of whether physical attendance is ever required and whether employees need to live in close proximity to the workplace.
As a blog post from Glassdoor explains, a remote worker will be able to do their job from anywhere in the world, as long as they have the necessary equipment and technology, such as a computer and access to the internet. Often, companies employing remote workers will have staff located in different countries.
Remote workers are not usually required to attend team-building sessions or office-based meetings, although they may participate through video conferencing. However, not all companies are aware of the distinction between remote work and telecommuting, so jobs are sometimes advertised as being remote, even if they do not meet the criteria.
4. Condensed Workweeks
A condensed workweek, also known as a compressed workweek, is an arrangement where the standard full-time working hours are still worked, but they are condensed down into fewer days than normal. Most often, this will result in a four-day working week rather than a five-day working week, although the exact arrangement may vary.
One common reason why employees might prefer this arrangement is because it allows for an extended three-day weekend rather than simply having two days off. Nevertheless, some employees might instead opt to have a day off in the middle of the week, allowing them to break the working week up or fit in other tasks.
An article for The Balance Careers highlights the fact that condensed workweeks can allow for a better work/life balance. The arrangement can also allow employers to retain staff who might otherwise look elsewhere for the flexibility they need. At the same time, it does also mean each individual day will be longer, which may not suit everyone.
As a basic definition, flextime – also known as flexitime – refers to flexible working arrangements where employees are given the freedom to select when their working day begins and ends, as long as they work their contracted number of hours. Most commonly, this means simply adjusting precisely when their daily working hours take place.
So, for example, rather than working from 9 am to 5 pm each day, an employee may opt to work from 11 am to 7 pm on one day, and from 8 am to 4 pm on another. In some arrangements, workers may also extend their hours on one day to reduce their hours on another, as long as their weekly or monthly contracted hours are met.
Flextime can be especially useful for employees who might need to fit work around other commitments, such as dropping kids off at school or studying a college course. In some cases, the ability to adjust start and finish times can also assist with their commute, making it easier to access public transport, or avoid rush hour traffic.
6. Part-Time Work
Part-time work describes any form of employment that provides fewer weekly hours than a full-time job. Although the definition of what constitutes full-time work varies from location to location, a common cut-off point is 30 hours per week. In the United States, part-time work is defined as anything ranging from one hour to 34 hours per week.
For employers, part-time positions can be useful, allowing them to employ people to carry out work that will not take up sufficient time to justify a full-time position. For employees, part-time work can often be desirable, allowing them to earn money alongside other responsibilities, such as studying or raising children.
In certain industries, there may be ‘off-season’ periods during the year, but employers may still need some staff to continue to keep the business operational, and this may be another good example of when part-time employment can be beneficial. Part-time workers are usually not entitled to the same employee benefits as full-time staff.
7. Shift Work
Shift work describes an arrangement where the working day is divided into different shifts, which are then allocated to employees, meaning different groups of workers will be carrying out their duties at different times of the day. It is an especially common approach for employers who operate 24-hours a day, seven days a week.
As a result, employees may be asked to work hours which differ from conventional 9 to 5 working hours, and they may also have to work different hours from one day to the next or from one week to the next. For some employees, there may also be the option of working night shifts rather than day shifts.
For employers, shift work offers advantages in ensuring work can be carried out at all times of the day. However, shift work has also been linked with a variety of negative side effects related to employee well-being, which means it needs to be carefully managed in order to avoid putting undue stress on the workforce.
8. Job Sharing
Finally, job sharing is another flexible work arrangement, where two people are employed on a part-time basis, combining to carry out the work that would otherwise be done by one person employed on a full-time basis.
For employees, the appeal of job sharing is similar to the appeal of a part-time job, allowing greater flexibility to work alongside other commitments. For employers, it may sometimes be easier to find two people willing to work part-time hours, and theoretically, the amount of work done is the same as if a full-time employee were hired. It can also be beneficial in instances where one employee takes leave, meaning the role can still be fulfilled in some capacity.
Successful job-sharing arrangements rely on work being divided up cleanly so that everyone knows what they are doing at all times. Good communication between the employees sharing the role – and between the employees and the employer – is also necessary. Aside from greater flexibility, the reduced hours can have benefits in terms of reducing absences and improving well-being, especially in stressful roles.
The global workforce is changing rapidly and demand for flexibility in the workplace is growing, especially as remote work and telecommuting have become more viable and as people have become more aware of the importance of achieving a good work/life balance. For employers, the key is finding which of the flexible work arrangements will provide sufficient flexibility to keep workers happy without suffering a negative impact on productivity or work quality.