What are flexible working arrangements?

Flexible working arrangements

Flexible working arrangements include a broad array of schedules and work environments that differ from the traditional in-office, 9-5 work structure. A hybrid work arrangement in which employees only work in person some of the time and remotely the rest of the time is a common example of a flexible working arrangement. These arrangements generally give employees more freedom to meet their job responsibilities in the manner that works best for them. 

What do employees expect from you as an employer? See our survey findings in Oyster’s Employee Expectations Report.

Types of flexible work arrangements

There are many different types of flexible work arrangements. Some examples include:

  • Compressed workweek: A compressed workweek is an arrangement in which the employer allows their employees to complete their full 40-hour workweek in less than the standard five days. Working four 10-hour days is an example. 
  • Job sharing: When employers implement job sharing, an employee partners with at least one other employee to split the job responsibilities of a single full-time position. One person might do the job from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. while the other works from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., for example. 
  • Hybrid work: Hybrid work has become one of the most common examples of flexible work arrangements, with employees completing some work in the office and some work remotely. It’s up to each employer to lay out the exact parameters of how often hybrid employees must work in person. 
  • Remote work: In remote work arrangements, the employer allows the employees to complete their job requirements entirely from home or any other location of their choosing. 
  • Flextime: Similar to a compressed workweek, flextime allows employees more freedom over when they work. In a flextime arrangement, the employees can choose when to fit in their daily working hours instead of defaulting to a 9-to-5 schedule. 

Benefits of flexible work arrangements

Implementing a flexible work arrangement can mark a significant change in more traditional workplaces. Making this shift generally requires the employer to invest both time and money to ensure that the new arrangement works smoothly, prompting the question of what benefits such an investment can offer. There are several advantages for employers who offer flexible work arrangements.

Attracting top talent

Attracting the best job seekers is always a priority for employers, and providing flexible work arrangements is one way to aid in those efforts. Increasingly, workers value and look for flexibility when searching for jobs. An employer that offers employees greater flexibility will likely attract more top talent compared to one that only offers traditional work arrangements.  

Saving on expenses

If a company's flexible work arrangements include hybrid or fully remote work, they may save on overhead costs. With fewer employees working in the office, employers may be able to use smaller and more affordable office spaces as well as use less electricity. These reductions in overhead costs will add up over time and, as a bonus, the changes are more eco-friendly, too. 

Increasing employee retention

It’s not enough to attract great employees—employers need to ensure that top talent stays at the company once they’re working there. Offering flexible work arrangements is an effective strategy for enticing employees to stay rather than hunt for new job options. Employees appreciate the added freedom and flexibility, making them more loyal as a result. Considering the high cost associated with recruiting for and filling empty job positions, this increased employee retention can be a significant cost-saving benefit. 

Best practices for flexible work arrangements

Developing and implementing flexible work arrangements requires careful consideration. Employers considering it should keep in mind the following best practices for flexible work arrangements:

  • Use a pilot program: Start with a pilot program to discover any flaws and correct them before opening up the arrangement to the broader workforce. 
  • Clarify expectations: Employees should know exactly what their employers expect of them in these new flexible work arrangements. Clearly outline what they need to do and how they can make the new arrangements a success. 
  • Prioritize communication: Establish clear lines of communication between employees and company leadership so they can adjust the flexible work arrangements to meet everyone’s goals. 
  • Train managers: Offer training to managers and company leaders on successfully guiding employees through the new flexible work arrangements. 
  • Evaluate: Regularly evaluate the flexible work arrangements to gauge their success and determine if they should continue. 

Companies with flexible work arrangements

Many top companies across industries have implemented flexible work arrangements for their employees in one form or another. Here are some of the companies that currently boast flexible working programs:

  • Microsoft
  • Dell
  • Delta Airlines
  • Johnson and Johnson
  • Apple
  • Nike
  • United Airlines
  • IBM
  • Intel Corporation
  • American Express

These companies have responded to the rising demand for flexibility from employees. Other employers considering flexible working arrangements can look to leading companies like these for inspiration when designing their programs and policies. 

About Oyster

Oyster is a global employment platform designed to enable visionary HR leaders to find, hire, pay, manage, develop, and take care of a thriving distributed workforce. Oyster lets growing companies give valued international team members the experience they deserve, without the usual headaches and expense.

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