Flexibility in the workplace is gaining a lot of attention in organizations. Flexible jobs are agreements between the employer and the employees to have alternatives to the regular nine to five jobs. Its advantages are becoming clearer for both the employees and the employers. Important organizations have been researching this trend and have concluded that this can really change our vision of work. According to Work Live Canada, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as well as the European Union say that flexible jobs can ease the rigidity in the labour markets and create a better work-family balance for parents. The International Labour Organization also supports this movement for its promoting of gender equality. Flexible jobs can make a more responsive workplace to the economic cycles as well as a more inclusive workplace by addressing parental needs when it comes to childcare or housework.
Flexible jobs are also a solution to the growing problem of work-life conflicts. On a personal level, according to the Institut national de la santé publique du Québec, there is a correlation between poor work-life balance and depression as well an anxiety disorders. On a macro level, strains in work-family balance can lead to dissatisfaction at work, which in turn causes supplementary costs to the Canadian organizations of $2.7 billion through increased turnover and absenteeism among others.
Types of Flexible Jobs
According to MIT’s article on job flexibility, here are the main flexible work options:
|Compressed Work Week
|Work week is compressed into fewer, but longer days
|Work week that has variable starting and ending times
|More than one employees sharing the duties and responsibilities of one position
|Less hours than a regular work week
|Personal or Family Leaves
|Block of time off where the employee retains his/her job
|Employee who is working from home or at an alternative worksite
How Flexible Jobs Advantage Both Employers and Employees
When employer provide employees with flexible alternatives, the labour relations tend to improve significantly. According to MIT’s article, flexible work arrangements can improve job satisfaction among employees, as well as less absenteeism, greater commitment to the company and a reduced turnover. In turn, this flexibility can really increase a company’s labour productivity and overall motivation.
How to Have Effective Flexible Work Arrangements
The success of a flexible work arrangement relies on the agreement made between both parties. It is important to consider both the organization’s and the employee’s needs. As per MIT’s article, the arrangement has to support the company goals, whether they are productivity, cost-efficiency, or any other. The individual’s work style and work history also has to fit with the arrangement. Employees who are recognized for being autonomous, self-driven and reliable can be better candidates for telecommuting for example. It is also important that the job tasks can be done effectively with this agreement. It would be more challenging for a supervisor to lead his/her team when working different hours. The arrangement must also be put in writing, where the employer and the employee agree on the terms of the flexible work arrangement. These contracts can include the setting of a trial period, or the fact that it is subject to change or revocation by the employer.
Flexible jobs are the way of the future. It is a great way to have to provide better working conditions, as well the maintain job satisfaction and quality of life for the employees of an organization. It makes for more inclusive work place and a more diversified workforce.
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MIT. A Guide to Job Flexibility at MIT: Tools for Employees and Supervisors Considering Flexible Work Arrangements.
Zeytinoglu, Cooke & Mann. Are Flexible Work Schedules Created for Business Reasons or to Assist Workers? Evidence from WES.
Institut nation de santé publique du Québec. La difficulté de concilier travail-famille : ses impacts sur la santé physique et mentale des familles québécoises.
International Labour Organization. Conditions of Work and Employment Programme: Working time in the twenty-first century.