How Companies are Creating Flexible Work Arrangements

working remotely as part of FWAs

The demand for flexible work arrangements is on the rise among job seekers. In fact, over half of employees said the flexibility was very important to their job satisfaction. How do you stay competitive in a job market that's offering this benefit? Here's how you can implement your own.

The demand for flexible work arrangements (or FWAs for short) is on the rise among job seekers. In a recent study by SHRM, 55% of employees said the flexibility to balance work and personal life was very important to their job satisfaction. According to the study, that number increased by 10% from just the previous year.

But there’s a lot to learn before diving into your own flexible work arrangement policy. For example, there are a variety of different types of flexible work arrangements to consider based on both the nature of your business and the needs of your employees. The best place to start your research is with the preexisting FWA policies other companies are offering.

Examples of flexible work arrangements

There’s a wide range of policies that flexible work arrangements can encompass– this is part of their flexibility. They can be anything from the option to work remotely to an unlimited number of vacation days or a combination approach that includes both.

Here are a few examples of FWAs that other companies are utilizing, according to HR Daily Advisor:

  • Telecommuting. Having necessary equipment and technology is the key to this type of FWA—it means that the employer doesn’t dictate the location from which their employees work. The result of this may look like an entirely remote workforce, an optional office, or investing in co-working space for your business. When offering telecommuting as an FWA, there are a few different ways to approach it. Some employers offer telecommuting one day a week while others allow it all the time. Some businesses put limits on the flexibility of the location (within the same time zone or country) while others don’t impose any restrictions.
  • Unlimited vacation time. This is an increasingly common approach to FWAs. Nothing dictates how many days employees must be working, only that their work gets done or that they meet whatever other benchmarks their company has set up to keep productivity rolling.
  • Compressed work weeks. This is one of the more unusual approaches to structuring an FWA policy. Essentially, it’s applying a type of schedule that has been common in certain shift-based industries, such as nursing. Employees work fewer days but more hours per day. For example, employees could be allowed to work four 10-hour days and have three days off instead of working five 8-hour days.
  • Part-time work. While part-time work has been around for a while, using it as a flexible work policy is a relatively new approach. With this arrangement, employees working part-time (the definition of which varies between states, but is typically less than 35 hours per week) still get many of the benefits that full-time employees have. This is what distinguishes this part-time FWA policy from a regular part-time employee. This particular FWA policy opens up employment opportunities to people who are unable to work full-time schedules.
  • Job sharing. This is perhaps the least common approach to FWAs, but some businesses have successfully implemented it. Under this arrangement, one full-time job is split up between multiple employees which means that each person sharing the job only works for part of a traditional work week. While this might seem like a hassle to manage, there is one major upside to job sharing: the built-in coverage when an employee is away from work.

What employers need to know before instituting flexible work arrangements

FWAs have plenty of benefits to both employers and employees. On the employee side, greater job satisfaction, ability to organize work around personal lives, and the benefit of working around times they are most productive are some of the selling points. For employers, FWAs can mean greater success in attracting and maintaining talent and the ability to extend the company’s working hours.

However, there are several elements to consider when instituting a flexible work arrangement policy at your organization. First, as California’s HR Council points out, there are the obvious managerial issues that can arise around remote workers and distributed teams. A high level of trust between managers and employees is needed to successfully pull off most FWAs. There will also be bumps in the road when switching between systems (think from full-time to job sharing) as you set your FWA policy in motion.

There are a few tricks employers can use to make transitions easier, though—clear policies and systems for tracking hours can go a long way into reaching your FWA dreams.

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