Authors

Women's Bureau

Publication Date

10-2015

Abstract

[Excerpt] Workplace flexibility is often described as the outcome of employers and employees working together to determine when, where and how much an employee works, with a view toward meeting both individual and business needs. While all workers struggle to juggle work and personal life, the challenge is even greater for hourly, low-wage workers, who often have the least amount of flexibility at work and experience unpredictability and instability in work schedules. Considering these challenges, there are specific workplace flexibility arrangements that may serve hourly, low-wage workers best. These can include shift flexibility, employee scheduling, and just-in-time flexibility. And while workplace flexibility is important, ensuring workers also have an adequate number of hours to make ends meet is also crucial. Small businesses have already adopted many of these practices and are therefore better at providing flexibility for hourly workers. In fact, according to the 2015 Economic Report of the President, small firms provide more flexibility than large firms across five dimensions of flexibility: changing starting and quitting times, working regular hours at home occasionally, having control over breaks, returning to work gradually after childbirth or adoption, and taking time off during the work day to tend to family or personal needs without losing pay. For salaried high-wage workers, workplace flexibility is often more accessible and can involve a variety of arrangements, including flextime, teleworking and compressed workweeks, as well as job-sharing and other reduced-work arrangements.

A flexible workplace is critical to business success. Flexibility is a powerful management tool that can be used to accomplish work more efficiently while helping employees manage the demands of work and home. Employers with flexible workplace policies also have a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining top talent. At its best, workplace flexibility is a natural component of an organization’s culture, whereby employees and managers work together to discover a variety of creative and mutually beneficial ways to schedule and accomplish work. Flexibility can also be used to reduce the carbon footprint and to help keep employees engaged and committed when a business’s focus changes or when budgets are tightened

Comments

Suggested Citation
U.S. Department of Labor, Women's Bureau. (2015). Workplace flexibility: information and options for small businesses. Washington, D.C.: Author.

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