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Have you heard about Flexible Work Arrangements (FWAs) — i.e. variations from the usual work arrangements? You may be familiar with working from home or telecommuting due to the coronavirus pandemic. How about job sharing and staggered time?
Whether it’s flexi-time, flexi-load or flexi-place, FWAs can help employees achieve work-life harmony and at the same time, give companies a competitive edge in attracting and retaining talent.
Take the quiz below to learn more about the different types of FWAs and how you can make flexible work a win-win for the organisation and yourself!
- Quit his job
- Use his annual leave to accompany his mum for physiotherapy
- Discuss flexible work arrangements (FWAs) with his employer
Quitting his job would mean a loss of income for John, while utilising his annual leave is a stopgap measure since it is not clear for how long his mother would require the physiotherapy sessions.
Staggered time is one type of FWA that John can consider taking up with his employer. This means varying the start and end times in a manner that enables John to help his mother, while still fulfilling his work responsibilities.
- No, it benefits only the employees
- No, it benefits only the employers
- Yes, it benefits both employees and employers
Both employers and employees can benefit immensely from adopting FWAs and including such arrangements in the company's business continuity plan. For employers like Mrs Foo, FWAs enable them to attract, retain, and gain access to a larger pool of talent, and become more nimble in manpower deployment. Hence, employers who rethink their HR policies to incorporate FWAs as an essential part of their company operations will be better able to sustain and grow their business. Such flexibility also makes employees more motivated and engaged, and thus more productive as they can better manage their work and personal responsibilities.
- Part-time work arrangement: Work reduced hours on a regular basis (e.g. Anika can reduce her working hours from 40 to 20 hours per week)
- Compressed Work Schedule: Work full-time hours in fewer than the normal number of days per time-period (e.g. Anika can opt to work 40 hours within a four-day work week and spend the rest of the week on her family needs)
- Job sharing: Have at least two persons to share the responsibilities of one full-time job (e.g. Anika can share her workload with another medical lab technician who is keen on this arrangement)
All of the above are examples of FWAs that Anika can tap on. For employees in job functions that require physical presence such as handling specific equipment on-site and frontline roles, telecommuting may not be a viable option. By considering the above examples, it can help employees, like Anika, continue to fulfil their job role, while also taking care of their responsibilities at home.
- Job nature
- Work expectations and deliverables
- Key performance indicators
It is important for Mr Hassan to look at the job scope and responsibilities to figure out if the preferred FWA might impact an employee’s ability to fulfill his or her job duties. The employee should also consider how he or she will meet work obligations while tapping on the FWA. Both employer and employee should have an honest discussion about their respective concerns. If the FWA request is deemed unsuitable, both sides should discuss and explore other FWAs that would be feasible.
- No preparation is necessary because everyone can figure it out as they go along
- The employer should meet with Eve and Nurul ahead of time to clearly communicate work targets and how the workload will be divided
- Colleagues and clients should be informed of Eve's and Nurul's new work arrangements to minimise work disruption
Preparation is half the battle won. Implementing a new FWA can have an impact on different stakeholders. Meeting with employees who are embarking on FWAs ahead of time to communicate work scope and targets, as well as notifying colleagues and clients of the new work arrangements can help make the transition smooth and maximise productivity.
- Mr Rama should hold regular check-ins to keep his telecommuting employees engaged and connected with colleagues
- Mr Rama should use project management tools to measure deliverables and evaluate work, and align expectations on quality of work and timelines
- Telecommuting employees should ensure that they remain accessible by phone or e-mail even when not physically present in the office
Ultimately, having a successful and sustainable FWA is about fostering a deep sense of trust between an employer and employee by showing that the new working arrangement will not affect work deliverables or business operations. Such an arrangement also contributes to maintaining a high level of productivity and meeting work targets.
Today, you’ve learnt:
- What are the different types of FWAs
- How FWAs can benefit both employees and employers
- What employees and employers should consider when determining if an FWA is suitable
- How employees and employers can prepare for FWAs and ensure the sustainability of these arrangements