Category Archives: Flexible Work Arrangements

Work–Family Balance and Alternative Work Schedules: Exploring the Impact of 4-Day Workweeks on State Employees

Source: Lori L. Wadsworth, Rex L. Facer, Public Personnel Management, Vol. 45 no. 4, December 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
In 2008, the State of Utah implemented a 4-day workweek for their employees. This article examines the impact on employees using a postimplementation survey. For employees on the 4-day schedule, there were no significant differences by gender on work–family balance or on the impact of the schedule. However, women did demonstrate slightly more positive attitudes toward the 4-day schedule. Employees with children at home reported lower work–family balance and greater impact of the 4-day schedule. In contrast, no difference in attitudes toward the 4-day schedule was found by age, although work–family balance differed among age groups. There were differences in work–family balance between employees on the 4-day schedule and those on traditional schedules; however, the more substantial factor was whether an employee selected his or her schedule. The current study highlights the importance of engaging employees when making significant organizational changes, such as transitioning from traditional work schedules to alternative schedules.

Nonstandard work arrangements and worker health and safety

Source: John Howard, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, First published: 25 October 2016
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From the abstract:
Arrangements between those who perform work and those who provide jobs come in many different forms. Standard work arrangements now exist alongside several nonstandard arrangements: agency work, contract work, and gig work. While standard work arrangements are still the most prevalent types, the rise of nonstandard work arrangements, especially temporary agency, contract, and “gig” arrangements, and the potential effects of these new arrangements on worker health and safety have captured the attention of government, business, labor, and academia. This article describes the major work arrangements in use today, profiles the nonstandard workforce, discusses several legal questions about how established principles of labor and employment law apply to nonstandard work arrangements, summarizes findings published in the past 20 years about the health and safety risks for workers in nonstandard work arrangements, and outlines current research efforts in the area of healthy work design and worker well-being.

Collective Bargaining Database

Source: Labor Project for Working Families, 2016

The Labor Project has updated their collective bargaining database with over 1,100 pieces of work and family language. Here’s the link for the new database and examples of model language for Paid Sick Days.

Contents include:
Assistance Services and Training Related Issues
Child Care
Definition of Family
Dependent Care
Elder Care
Fair Schedules and Flexible Work Options
Family Sick and Other Leave

Valuing Alternative Work Arrangements

Source: Alexandre Mas, Amanda Pallais, NBER Working Paper No. 22708, September 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
We use a field experiment to study how workers value alternative work arrangements. During the application process to staff a national call center, we randomly offered applicants choices between traditional M-F 9 am – 5 pm office positions and alternatives. These alternatives include flexible scheduling, working from home, and positions that give the employer discretion over scheduling. We randomly varied the wage difference between the traditional option and the alternative, allowing us to estimate the entire distribution of willingness to pay (WTP) for these alternatives. We validate our results using a nationally-representative survey. The great majority of workers are not willing to pay for flexible scheduling relative to a traditional schedule: either the ability to choose the days and times of work or the number of hours they work. However, the average worker is willing to give up 20% of wages to avoid a schedule set by an employer on a week’s notice. This largely represents workers’ aversion to evening and weekend work, not scheduling unpredictability. Traditional M-F 9 am – 5 pm schedules are preferred by most jobseekers. Despite the fact that the average worker isn’t willing to pay for scheduling flexibility, a tail of workers with high WTP allows for sizable compensating differentials. Of the worker-friendly options we test, workers are willing to pay the most (8% of wages) for the option of working from home. Women, particularly those with young children, have higher WTP for work from home and to avoid employer scheduling discretion. They are slightly more likely to be in jobs with these amenities, but the differences are not large enough to explain any wage gaps.

Does Satisfaction With Family-Friendly Programs Reduce Turnover? A Panel Study Conducted in U.S. Federal Agencies

Source: James Gerard Caillier, Public Personnel Management, vol. 45 no. 3, September 2016
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From the abstract:
This article sought to understand the association between employee satisfaction with several family-friendly programs and turnover in U.S. federal agencies. It also built on previous cross-sectional studies that examined the relationship between these benefits and both attitudes and outcomes. More specifically, this article used social exchange theory to develop hypotheses regarding the effect of telework, alternative work schedules, child care subsidies, elder care, employee assistance programs, and health and wellness programs on turnover. Furthermore, 4 years of panel data were obtained from the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey and FedScope to test the hypotheses. Consistent with social exchange theory, results from the balanced panel model indicate that satisfaction with family-friendly programs in general had a significant, negative effect on turnover at the .10 level. The results also indicate that alternative work schedules, child care programs, and employee assistance programs reduced turnover. Child care and employee assistance programs were significant at the .10 level. Telework, elder care, and health and wellness programs, on the other hand, were not found to have an impact on turnover. The implications the results have for theory and practice are discussed in the article.

Federal Telework: Better Guidance Could Help Agencies Calculate Benefits and Costs

Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), GAO-16-551, July 2016

From the summary:
Benefits associated with telework programs include continuity of operations and reduced employee absences, based on GAO’s literature review and the experiences of six selected agencies. The benefits most frequently cited by the selected agencies—the Department of Transportation (DOT), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), General Services Administration (GSA), Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)—were improved recruitment/retention, increased productivity, and improved work/life balance. Ongoing costs of telework programs include training and managing the telework program and one-time costs include information technology set up. The ongoing cost most frequently cited by the selected agencies was personnel costs. However, GAO found that the selected agencies had little data to support the benefits or costs associated with their telework programs. All of the selected agencies could provide some supporting documentation for some of the benefits and only two could provide supporting documentation for some of the costs.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) collects data on telework via its annual data call and consults with the Chief Human Capital Officers (CHCO) Council about its annual telework report to Congress. However, GAO found substantial declines in agency reporting of telework cost savings to OPM. For example, in 2012, agencies reported 66 examples of telework cost savings, but a year later they reported 29 examples. Amidst this decline, OPM decided to collect less information about cost savings—a key benefit of telework. OPM asked agencies for cost savings information in 2011, 2012, and 2013 but did not in its 2014-2015 agency data request. The Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 requires an annual assessment of agencies in meeting established outcome goals. Assessments that include information on benefits, net costs savings, and costs can help decision makers in determining the overall effects of their telework programs and the progress achieved. OPM officials stated that they streamlined the annual data request to focus on the act’s requirements, which do not explicitly include reporting on cost savings. However, as a result of this decision Congress will have less information to assess the value of telework.

OPM provides resources to agencies to help them with their telework programs, but may be missing other opportunities to help agencies better identify the net cost savings associated with their telework programs. The resources OPM offers include fee-for-service assistance to help implement or improve existing telework programs and training and webinars on responding to its annual data call. However, OPM guidance lacks information about how agencies can use existing data collection efforts to more readily identify benefits of their telework programs, and OPM has not provided guidance on how agencies should calculate the costs of their programs. By not taking advantage of existing data sources or having guidance on calculating costs, agencies are limited in their efforts to evaluate the net cost savings associated with their telework programs. As a result, Congress does not have the information it needs to assess the true value of telework, which could impact its ability to provide oversight of telework across the federal government.


Telework Paradoxes and Practices: The Importance of the Nature of Work

Source: Sebastian K. Boell, Dubravka Cecez-Kecmanovic, John Campbell, New Technology, Work and Employment, Vol. 31 Issue 2, 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Research on telework often focuses on the outcomes of telework, investigating if telework is ultimately a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ thing for teleworkers and their organisations. However, findings across telework research studies are often inconclusive, requiring deeper engagement with potential explanations for contradictory and paradoxical results. This study uses virtual ethnography (netnography) to investigate naturally occurring data. By analysing online debates related to Yahoo!’s decision to ban telework for its employees, this study surfaces aspects currently overlooked by telework research. These findings suggest that the diversity of the nature of work undertaken by knowledge workers and perceived differences in the suitability of different tasks for telework are of critical importance for understanding telework from a practice perspective. However, deeper engagement with the different kinds of work activities of knowledge workers is currently missing in the telework research literature. This study therefore contributes to better understanding of telework and paradoxical findings in telework research.

American Time Use Survey – 2015 Results

Source: Economic News Release, USDL-16-1250, June 24, 2016

From the summary:
In 2015, 38 percent of workers in management, business, and financial operations occupations, and 35 percent of those employed in professional and related occupations, did some or all of their work from home on days they worked, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Workers employed in other occupations were less likely to work from home on days they worked.

These and other results from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) were released today. These data include the average amount of time per day in 2015 that individuals worked, did household activities, and engaged in leisure and sports activities. Additionally, measures of the average time per day spent providing childcare–both as a primary(or main) activity and while doing other things–for the combined years 2011-2015 are provided. For a further description of ATUS data and methodology, see the Technical Note.