Category Archives: Flexible Work Arrangements

Unlocking the Housing-Related Benefits of Telework: A Case for Government Intervention

Source: W.C. Bunting – research economist in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, Date Written: June 29, 2017

From the abstract:
The central claim of the present article is that some form of government intervention is necessary to make telework arrangements sufficiently binding in the long-run for employees living in, or near, city centers to feel comfortable incurring the costs of relocating to more remote, lower-priced areas, and to ensure the long-run financial self-sufficiency of private telework centers, which provide important benefits, not just to employers and employees, but to society generally. The public benefit considered here is the capacity for telework, and telework centers specifically, to provide lower-priced housing alternatives for middle- and high-income earners who choose to live in, or near, the city center to reduce the time spent commuting, but who would otherwise choose to live in more remote, lower-priced areas if commuting costs were lower. As explained, a minimal amount of government intervention is necessary, however, to overcome several key economic challenges that preclude employees from relocating to remote, lower-priced exurban or rural communities, as well as the formation of a new and exciting private-sector enterprise—the privately-operated telework center.

The Better Work Toolkit: A Science-Based Approach to Designing Work-Life Solutions That Work

Source: Brigid Schulte, Dan Connolly and Uyhun Ung, New America, Better Life Lab, March 30, 2017

…..The answer is not to jettison flexibility, collaboration, and autonomy, but rather, to use an understanding of human psychology to redesign work systems in order for individuals, teams and organizations to use them more skillfully. In this toolkit, we outline the challenges, best practices and promising new ideas to ease four particularly thorny choke points—reducing e-mail overload, inefficient meetings, and long work hours, and increasing restful time off—based on universal behavioral science principles…..

What Do Moms Really Need This Mother’s Day? Paid Family Leave

Source: Tillie McInnis, Refinery29, May 12, 2017

….Paid leave allows a worker to take time off in order to prioritize wellness, family, and life outside of work without losing pay (or risking their job security). Paid leave includes, but is not limited to family leave, personal leave, and sick leave. It seems like a simple concept that everyone should have access to, yet 61% of those on the lowest rungs of the income ladder don’t have a single paid sick day, and only 13% of U.S. workers have some paid family leave through their employers. It feels almost too obvious to be highlighting, but it’s an important point: Paid sick days are good for workers, and they don’t cost businesses much. Compared to other developed countries, the U.S. is seriously lagging in paid leave. We are one of the few developed countries still having contentious debates about abortion, and yet when a child is born, there are few to no laws in place that help children and families thrive. We put businesses first, claiming that it is too costly for employers to provide paid sick days, but as research shows, that is simply not the case. In New York City specifically, businesses surveyed found little to no increase in costs when they started to provide employees with paid sick days…..
Related:
How America Treats Working Moms Like Shit
Source: Laura Smith, Mother Jones, May/June 2017

….As many have pointed out, all moms are working moms, regardless of whether they are paid for their work. But as sociologist Arlie Hochschild put it in her book The Second Shift, mothers juggling housework with a day job enjoy a “double burden.” In time for Mother’s Day, here’s a short history of some of America’s most underappreciated employees…..

Happiness is Flextime

Source: Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn, Lonnie Golden, Applied Research in Quality of Life, Forthcoming, Posted: 11 May 2017

From the abstract:
We study how working schedule flexibility (flextime) affects happiness. We use a US General Social Survey (GSS) pooled dataset containing the Quality of Worklife and Work Orientations modules for 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, and 2014. We retain only respondents who are either full-time or part-time employees on payrolls. For flextime to be associated with greater happiness, it has to be more than just sometimes flexible or slight input into one’s work schedule, that is, little flextime does not increase happiness. But substantial flextime has large effect on happiness–the size effect is about as large as that of household income, or about as large as one-step increase in self-reported health, such as up from good to excellent health. Our findings provide support for both public and organizational policies that would promote greater work schedule flexibility or control for employees.

Do Reform Values Matter? Federal Worker Satisfaction and Turnover Intention at the Dawn of the Trump Presidency

Source: Sung Min Park, Maria Ernita Joaquin, Kyoung Ryoul Min, Reginald G. Ugaddan, American Review of Public Administration, Online First, First Published May 4, 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
With heightened bureaucratic bashing and the planned reorganization of the U.S. federal bureaucracy, hiring is going to be difficult, but what could make those already in the service satisfied and willing to stay in their jobs? How could flexible work systems have an impact on worker job satisfaction and turnover intention? Using hierarchical linear modeling, we explore the impact of alternative work systems on employee job satisfaction and turnover intention in the context of values underlying managerial reforms. Flexible work systems are found to have a positive impact moderated by the kind of values promoted by particular reforms. A discussion on the main findings, research, and practical implications for public human resource management theory and practice is provided.

The Value of Flexible Work: Evidence from Uber Drivers

Source: M. Keith Chen, Judith A. Chevalier, Peter E. Rossi, Emily Oehlsen, National Bureau of Economic Research, NBER Working Paper No. 23296, March 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Participation in flexible contract work has increased dramatically over the last decade, often in settings where new technologies lower the transaction costs of providing labor flexibly. One prominent example of this is the ride-sharing company Uber, which allows drivers to provide (or not provide) rides anytime they are willing to accept prevailing prices for this service. An Uber-style arrangement offers workers flexibility in both setting a customized work schedule and also adjusting it throughout the day. Using high-frequency data of hourly earnings for Uber drivers, we document the ways in which drivers utilize this real-time flexibility and we estimate the driver surplus generated by this flexibility. We estimate how drivers’ reservation wages vary in high frequency from hour to hour, which allows us to study the surplus and supply implications of both flexible and traditional work arrangements. Our results indicate that, while the Uber relationship may have other drawbacks, Uber drivers benefit significantly from real-time flexibility, earning more than twice the surplus they would in less flexible arrangements. If required to supply labor inflexibly at prevailing wages, they would also reduce the hours they supply by more than two-thirds. The implications of our findings for the future of flexible work are discussed.

2017 National Study of Employers

Source:Kenneth Matos, Ellen Galinsky and James T. Bond, Families and Work Institute (FWI) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 2017

The National Study of Employers is a comprehensive look at employer practices, policies, programs and benefits that address personal and family needs of employees. The survey of more than 900 U.S. employers with 50 or more employees was conducted by the Families and Work Institute and is released by SHRM as part of the When Work Works initiative.

The study provides insight into how employers are responding to the changing demographics of the workforce over time and examines flexible work arrangements, paid and unpaid parental and other caregiver leave, and elder care assistance, among other practices. This is the sixth published study since the project was launched in 1998.

Key findings include:
• Small employers (50-99 employees) were more likely than large employers (1,000 or more employees) to offer all or most employees 1) traditional flextime, the ability to periodically change start and stop times (36% vs. 17%), 2) control over when to take breaks (63% vs. 47%) and time off during the work day to attend to important family or personal needs without loss of pay (51% vs. 33%).
• Growth of workplace flexibility has been stable over the past four years. Out of 18 forms of flexibility studied, there were only four changes:
• An increase in employers that offer telework, allowing employees to work at least some of their paid hours at home on a regular basis (40% in 2016 vs. 33% in 2012).
• An increase in employers that allow employees to return to work gradually after childbirth or adoption (81% in 2016 vs. 73% in 2012).
• An increase in organizations that allow employees to receive special consideration after a career break for personal/family responsibilities (28% in 2016 vs. 21% in 2012).
• A decrease in organizations that allow employees to take time off during the workday to attend to important family or personal needs without loss of pay (81% in 2016 vs. 87% in 2012).
Related:
Summary

Fight Trump. Work From Home.

Source: Tasneem Rajamar, Mother Jones, April 2017

Remote jobs are great for work-life balance—and democracy. ….. By 2020, Dell hopes that half its workforce will be doing at least some remote work. A report released by the company in June 2016 found that thanks to telecommuting, 35,000 US employees each saved the equivalent of one metric ton of carbon dioxide on average every year—even when you consider the extra energy required for heat and lights in a home office….. What’s more, a group of researchers found that for low-income people, the longer their commute is, the less likely they are to vote. And another study shows that no other daily activity brings out as many negative emotions as the morning commute—not dealing with the kids, cleaning the dishes, or even being at work. When you’re already stressed out and annoyed, finding the energy to engage politically is just that much harder…..
Related:
The Sustainability Benefits of the Connected Workplace
Source: John Pflueger, Sarah Gibson, Christian Normand, Dell, June 2016

The “Daily Grind” – Work, Commuting, and Their Impact on Political Participation
Source: Benjamin J. Newman, Joshua Johnson, Patrick L. Lown, American Politics Research, Vol 42, Issue 1, 2014
(subscription required)

Developments in the Measurement of Subjective Well-Being
Source: Daniel Kahneman and Alan B. Krueger, Journal of Economic Perspectives, Volume 20, Number 1, Winter 2006