Flexible Work Arrangements: How to Choose

Because flexible work arrangements have not been used widely by staff until recently, many people tend to think of them as a special benefit or privilege for employees. The truth is that there can be significant benefits for management as well. These benefits are discussed in more detail below. Generally speaking, however, the best arrangement is the one that most effectively addresses the employee's personal needs or preferences and the department's need to provide effective and efficient services.

Sometimes these needs are in conflict. When this is the case, the department has the right to deny a request for a flexible work arrangement. However, with so many choices available, it is often possible to design an arrangement that meets the needs of both the employee and the department. To work toward this goal, employees who want flexible work arrangements are encouraged to 'do their homework' by following the guidelines in " Checklist for Developing a Flexible Work Arrangement Proposal " found at the end of this section.

When in doubt as to whether an arrangement will work, keep two things in mind:

  • Pilot Programs can be a terrific way of testing out an arrangement. Simply determine how many months the arrangement will be "on trial," and what the criteria will be for assessing the results at the end of that period. Once the assessment has been completed, the arrangement can be continued on an indefinite basis, or modified in some way, or the employee can return to the previous work arrangement.
  • Departments retain control of work arrangements. If, in spite of everyone's best efforts, an arrangement is not working out for the department (perhaps service is being reduced, or other employees are bearing an unreasonable burden), the department has the right to revise the employee's schedule.

Here are some factors for both employees and supervisors to consider as they attempt to design the work arrangement that works best for all concerned: