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The Rise of Flexible Working

March 26, 2020

Editor's Note: This post was originally published on July 24, 2017 and has been updated for accuracy with new stats and information.

Years ago, work fit nicely into a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. box. These days, it rarely does. We find ourselves working longer and trying to find a way to fit our family’s activities around our work schedule. If we’re facing challenges at home, such as aging parents to care for or a child who’s sick, it becomes more complicated to manage both work and home life.

In recent years, the trend towards remote work—either full- or part time—has been steadily on the rise. According to Global Workplace Analytics, full-time remote employment has risen by 173 percent since 2005, and upwards of 5 million employees (3.6 percent of the nation’s total workforce) worked from home at least part-time in 2018. What’s more, current events such as the COVID-19 pandemic are forcing some employers previously averse to remote work and/or fully distributed workforces to reconsider their strategies and policies in an effort to promote employee safety and flexibility in uncertain times.

Whether you’ve made the move to flexible working by choice or out of necessity, there are benefits to these types of arrangements that may include increases in employee satisfaction, improvements to employee physical and mental wellbeing, and a higher level of motivation and productivity in the work they perform.

Surveying the Options

There are a variety of ways you can implement flexible work options into your business' policies. Let’s take a look at a few of the options:

> Remote work/Telecommuting. This arrangement is pretty straightforward. Rather than requiring all employees to perform their work inside the office, this policy allows employees to work remotely at least part of the time. How this looks for your business will vary. You may require employees to be in the office a set number of days of the week, but allow telecommuting on other days. Or you may allow for the occasional remote work in times of need.

>Flexible work hours. Do you really need all of your employees in the office at the same time? Or for the same number of hours every day? Probably not. Flexible work hour policies can take on multiple structures. You can offer employees the ability to work their set number of hours—say 40—however they’d like, which would allow them to work longer on some days and less or not at all on others. Or you can still require a specific number of hours worked each day, but allow your employees to determine what hours they’d like to work.

>Job sharing. This policy allows two employees to partner together to fill one role within your company. They essentially split the time in half, with some overlap to allow for a transfer of information about projects from one to the other. This allows both employees to work on a part-time basis, with greater flexibility in performing their job responsibilities.