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Flexible Work Arrangements

Flexible Work Arrangements as an Inclusive Workplace Practice
Requesting a Flexible Work Arrangement as an Accommodation
Additional Resources on Flexible Work Arrangements

Flexible Work Arrangements as an Inclusive Workplace Practice

Flexible work arrangements offer employees flexibility in terms of when and where work is performed.  The following are examples of flexible work arrangements:

  • Telecommuting or Telework
  • Flexible Scheduling (e.g., working 7:30am – 4:30pm or varying one’s schedule on different days)
  • Compressed Work Week (e.g., four days of working ten hours with one day off)
  • Part-time Work
  • Job Sharing (e.g., two individuals share the responsibilities of one full-time job)
  • Flexible Year Program (e.g., working during the academic, rather than fiscal year)
  • Self-scheduling and shift trading
  • Phased Retirement

Flexible work arrangements are of benefit to employees with a variety of circumstances, such as:

  • Disabled Employees
  • Pregnant Employees
  • Employees with caregiving responsibilities for young children, elderly family members, or other relatives/friend
  • Employees who have long commutes.
  • Employees who are more productive in an environment with fewer people/distractions.
  • Employees who are more productive outside of traditional business hours.

When work environments are designed to be flexible, the need for disabled or pregnant employees to request accommodations through a separate process is reduced.  Flexible work arrangements also offer a number of benefits to University departments, such as:

  • The ability to offer services at times that meet client/customer needs. For example, allowing employees the flexibility to work in the evenings might make services more convenient for students.
  • Cost savings in terms of office space
  • Increased productivity from employees who are more productive outside of traditional business hours and in environments with fewer people/distractions
  • Positive employee morale
  • Improved employee recruitment and retention

Every job is unique and certain types of flexibility may not be possible in every job.  However, some amount of flexibility is possible in almost every job.  For example, for police officers and nurses, the great majority if not all of the work may need to be performed on site.  However, departments may be able to offer these types of employees other types of flexibility, such as part-time work, job sharing, or self-scheduling, which allows employees to identify preferences for shifts on a regular basis, sometimes through a software program. 

For traditional office jobs, work is increasingly being performed over phone or with email, Skype, conference calls or other technology.  Many employees have home computers or smart phones, which allow them to be accessible outside of traditional work hours and environments.    

For departments interested in designing flexible work environments, the key is to focus on the desired results and performance, not on when, where, or how the work is performed if those factors aren’t essential to achieving the desired results/performance.  For traditional office jobs, most supervisors don’t have a better sense of whether employees are truly working while in the office than when they are at a remote location or working outside of traditional business hours.  What matters most is whether the employee is accomplishing his/her work tasks and projects and the quality of his/her work product. 

Contact a DRC Workplace Access staff member to provide consultation on how to make the workplace more accessible through the creation of flexible work arrangements.  You can also contact Life and Work Connections for consultation. 

Requesting a Flexible Work Arrangement as an Accommodation

If an employee would like more information about requesting a flexible work arrangement as a reasonable accommodation, she can contact a DRC Workplace Access staff member. To request an accommodation an employee must submit an Accommodation Request Form and may be required to submit a Medical Provider Form. (We recommend using Adobe Acrobat Reader to open the fillable PDF version.)

Additional Resources on Flexible Work Arrangements:

University of Arizona's Life and Work Connection’s Flexible Work Arrangements Guide: http://lifework.arizona.edu/sites/default/files/FWA_guide.pdf

Society for Human Resources Management Workplace Flexibility Resources: http://www.shrm.org/hrdisciplines/benefits/pages/workflex.aspx

When Work Works: http://www.whenworkworks.org/

Video on workplace flexibility by Life Meets Work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUz2hH_T1nE