9 Types of Flexible Working Arrangements (Pros and Cons)
Updated March 29, 2023
While employees often have a traditional 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. workday with a 40-hour workweek, it's becoming more common in workplaces for employers to offer flexible working arrangements. Whether you work remotely or share job duties with a coworker, having a flexible working arrangement provides many benefits for both you and your employer. It can be helpful to learn about these arrangements to determine which might work best for you.
In this article, we define flexible working arrangements, list nine types of arrangements and explain the potential advantages and disadvantages they may offer.
What are flexible working arrangements?
A flexible working arrangement refers to a work schedule or work environment that doesn't have the constraints you often find with a traditional work schedule job. These arrangements consider your personal life and allow you to help find a greater work-life balance. Such arrangements are becoming more common as employers realize their benefits.
Flexibility often helps increase the ability to attract, retain and motivate high-performing and experienced employees. It can also contribute to increasing workplace diversity and inclusion. Offering such options may reduce absenteeism, boost productivity, lower overhead costs and allow continued operations during emergencies.
Related: What Do Flexible Hours Mean?
9 types of flexible working arrangements
Employers may offer flexible working arrangements to make their employees' lives easier. A flexible working arrangement can improve your productivity, job satisfaction and overall happiness. Here are some types of flexible working arrangements you may find in the workforce:
1. Flex time
This type of working arrangement provides you with flexibility regarding your workday's start and end times. While your employer may specify certain times that you can work during the day, you typically have the option of when to begin and end your workday at a time that's more convenient to your personal schedule. Some employers also offer flexible or unlimited paid time off. Typically, this is available to reward your quality of work as opposed to focusing on the number of hours you work.
Related: How To Find a Job With Flex Hours
2. Compressed workweek
A compressed or condensed workweek allows you to work 40 hours in less than five days. You may start earlier or finish later than the normal workday. For example, you may work four 10-hour days. This schedule, for example, might allow you to take an extra day or decrease commuting costs each week.
3. Reduced hours or part-time work
Employees may choose to work fewer than the standard full-time workweek. These arrangements may be on a temporary or permanent basis depending on individual circumstances. It may also be available in some cases for employees with medical conditions. You may be able to negotiate or choose work hours to coincide with peak workload hours, depending on the type of business. Employee benefits and qualifications for government programs, such as employment insurance or pension plans, may experience an impact, so be sure to conduct research before starting a reduced-hour or part-time arrangement.
4. Annualized hours
Annualized hours, also known as banking hours, allow you and a member of your team to agree on a maximum number of days and work hours for a certain period. This is often a combination of flex time and compressed workweek programs and can help reduce overtime hours. These arrangements may be helpful in fields where there's variation in demands, such as peak hours or seasonal peaks.
5. Flex place
Also known as telecommuting or teleworking, flex place allows you to work remotely from your home or another location. While some employees work remotely 100% of the time, others may come into the office a few days per week. With this arrangement, you and a team member employee can determine details, such as hours of work and how you plan to communicate with coworkers and customers.
6. Job sharing
With job sharing, you and at least one coworker split one full-time position and the required working hours. This arrangement essentially operates like part-time work for employees while letting employers receive the equivalent of one full-time employee. Job sharing may affect pay, benefits and holidays. For example, a full-time schedule might be from 2 to 10 p.m., but two employees split a schedule where one works from 2 to 6 p.m. and the other works from 6 to 10 p.m.
7. Work sharing
Companies often allow work sharing to avoid layoffs. With this arrangement, employers temporarily reduce the number of hours and salaries for staff while maintaining the number of people they employ. For example, all copy editors at a newspaper may work a four-day schedule at a lower wage than their previous five-day week.
8. Phased retirement
With this type of flexible working arrangement, you and the employer agree on a schedule that gradually reduces your full-time work commitments. For example, the employer may decide to schedule your responsibilities over a series of months or years as you near retirement. This phased period can be useful to train your replacement, plan to restructure or let coworkers adjust to the redistribution of tasks.
9. Leaves and sabbaticals
Leaves and sabbaticals are authorized periods of time away from work without loss of employment rights. Paid or unpaid leaves are usually available for family, health care, education or leisure reasons. Sabbaticals are usually paid, or partially funded, and occur in addition to vacation time. In some cases, self-funded leaves may be possible where an employer withholds a portion of the employee's salary and returns it to the employee as pay during the time away from work.
Related: Q&A: What Is a Sabbatical?
Advantages of flexible working arrangements
Here are some of the advantages that flexible working arrangements provide to employees:
Greater work-life balance
A flexible working arrangement might make it easier to meet your family's needs, personal obligations and life responsibilities. This is work-life balance. For example, you can get your child from school in the middle of the day, take a yoga class in the morning or be home when you have groceries delivered in the afternoon. Having this balance increases your chances of job satisfaction as you're more likely to want to perform well at work.
A flexible working schedule gives you an increased sense of empowerment regarding your work schedule and environment. The ability to set your own schedule and work where you want can improve morale and create greater job satisfaction. It can also reduce the risk of burnout.
With a flexible work schedule, you have the opportunity to set your own work hours and work during your most productive hours. For example, if you tend to get more work done during the morning, you can structure your work schedule accordingly. If you complete more work at night, you can move your work schedule to later hours to ensure the greatest level of productivity.
If you have a flexible working arrangement that allows you to work from home, you can avoid making the trip to a physical workplace each day. This allows you to avoid traffic and time. You can also reduce the stress and costs associated with commuting.
Lowered childcare costs
Depending on your flexible working arrangement, you may see a decrease in childcare costs. If you work remotely, you may still opt to pay for some type of childcare since you may not be able to effectively complete your work while watching your children. If you and your partner both have flexible working arrangements, you might coordinate your schedules to avoid paying for childcare.
Reduced tardiness and absenteeism
Creating your own work schedule or adjusting it to fit your needs helps you start work on time and reduce the times you call in sick. When you don't have to commute, for example, you avoid running late due to traffic. You're also less likely to call in sick to work since you're already home.
If you have a flexible working arrangement to work from home, you can create a workspace customized to your interests and productivity. For example, instead of working in a cubicle, you can arrange a home office with the right setup for you. Creating your own workspace can help you find greater job satisfaction and motivation.
Disadvantages of flexible working arrangements
While a flexible working arrangement comes with many benefits, it can also present some drawbacks. Acknowledging these drawbacks can help you determine how much you value a flexible working arrangement. Here are some of the disadvantages of flexible working arrangements:
Diminished communication with staff
If you work from home, you and other staff members may have a harder time communicating. While you can still interact through video calls, phone calls, emails and online communication platforms, it's not the same as speaking with someone in person. When you're not able to communicate effectively, it can hinder your productivity and the quality of your work. With a flexible arrangement, you can make a greater effort to coordinate and plan projects with in-office employees. To combat this, some employers may require you to work certain hours to ensure your team is available at the same time.
Inclination to work more
If you don't have a clear balance between your work and home life, you may feel like you're working all the time. It's harder to stop working when your computer is accessible at all hours or you don't have a separate workspace in your home. It can be beneficial to enforce boundaries between your personal space and your workspace. For example, you can set a time to avoid your computer when you've completed all your tasks for the day.
Decreased sense of teamwork
If you work from home, you may feel isolated from your coworkers. While you can still interact with your colleagues online, communicating personally often provides you with a greater sense of community and helps you feel like you're not alone. Without the support or physical presence of your colleagues, you're more likely to feel isolated. While still enjoying flexible working arrangements, you and your coworkers can plan to meet in person occasionally to increase the feeling of inclusion.
A flexible working arrangement may lead to less productivity if it's not used effectively. For example, some employees may find it hard to adapt to a flexible working arrangement without a concrete working schedule and oversight. Not having either of these may reduce your productivity since you no longer have an active source of motivation or the assurance that often comes with an in-office job.
Learning to adapt to a remote work environment can help you improve your productivity. You can refine your schedule with a to-do list to acknowledge when you plan to complete tasks, and you can monitor the amount of time you spend on each task to help you visualize your progress. It may also be helpful to minimize distractions in your home so your remote workspace resembles the one you may have in a traditional office.
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