A good fit between work demands and other life responsibilities can improve the quality of both work and home life for employees. This in turn can affect job performance, productivity, absenteeism and turnover. Forward thinking business leaders can take steps to increase work flexibility, so employees can be at their best on and off the job.
On this page, you’ll find a collection of work-flex resources, including articles and research abstracts, book recommendations, useful statistics and links to other high-quality resources. Check out the short video about work-flex, below, and share it with the HR staff and managers in your organization to help get the conversation started.
Work flexibility isn’t about working less. It’s a way to keep people engaged and performing well by giving them the ability to work in ways that fit their needs and preferences. One option is telecommuting – or working from home. This saves time and money in commuting costs and allows employees to meet the demands of their busy lives, while still getting the job done. In addition, telecommuting can save the company money by lowering utility and overhead costs and is good for the environment – taking cars off the roads and reducing energy consumption.
Flexible work schedules are another option. Some people have times of the day when they are simply more productive. Or, they may have a much lighter commute if they start their work day earlier or later. To get the best results, employees and supervisors should work together to develop an effective work-flex plan.
There are other options beyond telecommuting and flexible scheduling. Compressed work weeks have become very popular. For example, employees might work full-time hours within four, ten-hour days. Another effective work-flex strategy is allowing employees to work part-time or to job share. These approaches broaden the pool of available talent and enable an organization to benefit from the contributions of high-quality employees, even when they are not able to commit to full-time hours. So, it’s a win-win. Regardless of what a company chooses to include in its work-flex program, it’s essential for employees to have the support of their direct supervisors and the technology tools they need to be productive.
Flexibility is key in today’s fast-paced world, where people are juggling multiple life demands. It yields lower absenteeism, higher performance, a healthier workforce and lower turnover of high-value employees. Organizations should determine which flexible work practices best fit their needs, implement them fairly throughout the organization, and help employees and supervisors develop the skills to work together and use these arrangements effectively.
As our lives get busier, employees are placing an even higher value on flexibility in the workplace. For organizations, offering flexibility has become a competitive advantage that drives business results and helps them attract and retain the very best and brightest.
General Overviews and Online Resources
Flex at a Glance Brochure from When Work Works.
Workflex and Telework Guide – tips for HR professionals, managers and employees from When Work Works.
When Work Works – A website offering a variety of resources, a blog and other information about flexible working. Partners include the Families and Work Institute and Society for Human Resource Management.
Boston College Center for Work & Family – Research and Publications on Workplace Flexibility.
Sloan Center on Aging & Work – Focus On Workplace Flexibility.
Workplace Flexibility Toolkit – from the U.S. Department of Labor.
Flexible Schedules and Work Arrangements – Topic area from WorldatWork.
Surveys and Research
Trends in Workplace Flexibility – 2015 report from WorldatWork.
Resources for Employers, Managers and Consultants
Search our database of professional, academic and popular press literature for articles about work flexibility.
How to Talk to About Workflex – Tips for Supervisors from the Families and Work Institute.
Workflex and Manufacturing Guide from the Families and Work Institute.
HR Council for the Nonprofit Sector information about flexible work arrangements.
U.S. Office of Personnel Management Handbook on Alternative Work Schedules – A Framework for Federal Agencies.
Workplace Flexibility Resource Page – from the Society for Human Resource Management.
Resources for Employees
Workflex Employee Toolkit from the Families and Work Institute.
Books on Work Flexibility
Titles and descriptions come from the APA Center for Organizational Excellence’s Amazon Associates Store.
Workplace Flexibility: Realigning 20th-century Jobs for a 21st-century Workforce
By Kathleen Christensen & Edited by Barbara Schneider (2010)
Although today’s family has changed, the workplace has not—and the resulting one-size-fits-all workplace has become profoundly mismatched to the needs of an increasingly diverse and varied workforce. As changes in the composition of the workforce exert new demands on employers, considerable attention is being paid to how workplaces can be structured more flexibly to achieve the goals of employers and employees. Workplace Flexibility brings together sixteen essays authored by leading experts in economics, demography, political science, law, sociology, anthropology, and management. Collectively, they make the case for workplace flexibility, as well as examine existing business practices and public policy regarding flexibility in the United States, Europe, Australia, and Japan.
CEO of Me: Creating a Life That Works in the Flexible Job Age
By Ellen Ernst Kossek & Brenda A. Lautsch (2010)
In the always-available age of Blackberries, more and more of even the most accomplished individuals struggle to achieve a balance between the demands of work and personal/family life. Kossek and Lautsch, professors who have long been studying the success and failure of various flextime work arrangements, have made some interesting discoveries: satisfaction with work/life balance depends less on gender, family situation and occupation than on how people self-manage their careers. Thus the authors have mapped out the most common flexstyles and offer practical solutions for drawing the line between work and family to create a better life in both arenas. The book offers self-assessment questionnaires to help readers work out if they are Integrators, Separators, or Volleyers, depending on what life role is most important to them, and provides strategies, tips and tools from there.
TWEAK IT: Make What Matters to You Happen Every Day
By Cali Williams Yost (2013)
As the demands of work grow more intense, personal life can get shoved to the side. But resolving the job-versus-life conflict doesn’t require the kind of big, disruptive, scary transformation that so many time-management “experts” recommend. In TWEAK IT, Cali Williams Yost proves that a comfortable work+life fit can be achieved through making small, consistent, everyday changes—tweaks—that, cumulatively, will optimize job performance and well-being. This engaging, practical book, filled with case studies of people who’ve tweaked their way to professional success and personal satisfaction, guides readers through an easy-to-implement program that can be tailored to suit any individual’s life, both on off the job.
Work + Life: Finding the Fit That’s Right for You
By Cali Williams Yost (2004)
Work+Life provides the tools to adjust the “work” portion of life in order to have more time and/or energy for personal responsibilities and interests. Even a small change can make a big difference. Industry expert Cali Yost has been working with people on all sides of the issue: employees and managers at companies such as General Electric/NBC, Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceuticals, and Ernst & Young, and EAPs nationwide that help companies help their employees. They all say the same thing – Work+Life is the missing piece of the puzzle, putting readers on the cutting edge of the workplace revolution.
Flexible Work Arrangements: Managing the Work-Family Boundary
By Benjamin H. Gottlieb, E. Kevin Kelloway & Elizabeth J. Barham (1998)
Dramatic changes in the composition of today’s workforce combined with intense competitive pressures on employers, call for new ways of structuring where, when, and how employees accomplish their job responsibilities. This book makes the business case for flexible working in an organization, and shows how flexitime, job sharing, telecommuting, and compressed work weeks can be used as strategic management tools. Key features include: identifies ways flexible work arrangements can be designed to enhance the personal well-being and job performance of employees, while improving the corporate bottom line; and provides a comprehensive, systematic framework for planning and implementing flexible work arrangements.
Professional Associations & Membership Organizations
Work, Stress and Health Conference – Convened by the American Psychological Association, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Society for Occupational Health Psychology
Work and Family Researchers Network Conference – Papers, posters and symposia that address all aspects of the work-family interface
Articles and Resources from the American Psychological Association
Special Issue: The Flexibility Stigma – Journal of Social Issues (June 2013).
The American Psychological Association’s Center for Organizational Excellence gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Ellen Galinsky, Matthew J. Grawitch, PhD, L. Michael Honaker, PhD, Ismael Rivera, Jr. and Eve Tahmincioglu in developing this resource page.
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