Flexible schedules for work-life balance

Man at park with his childrenConversations about work-life balance, sustainability, and flexible schedules dominate human resource offices and boardrooms, as the competition for talent and worker retention rises. Since many workplace surveys indicate that workers value their time even more than wage increases, workplace flexibility is a key consideration on both sides of the hiring desk.

Whether you are an employer looking to attract and retain talent, or you are an employee who wants to create a more sustainable work experience for yourself and your family, let’s explore some definitions to see what flexibility could look like in your workplace:

Informal and formal flexibility

1) Informal flexibility is occasional, and has little or no impact on others in the workplace. Typically, these changes require verbal pre-approval from a manager. For example, shifting start and end times for your workday, to accommodate a one-time or infrequent need.

2) Formal flexibility is usually an ongoing arrangement that is different from a workgroup’s standard hours and work location. This might include telecommuting regularly or changing a work schedule permanently. To be seriously considered, the request must meet the business needs of the organization. Any changes must meet the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as well as applicable state labor laws.

Typical types of flexible work arrangements


Flextime is often one of the most requested, least costly, and easiest to manage of flexible arrangements. This could include non-standard times of workday beginning, ending, and lunch times, but does not change the total number of hours worked in a day.

Compressed work week

For employees whose work can be accomplished outside the traditional five days per week, eight-hours per day schedule, a compressed week might look like four ten-hour days, or four nine-hour days with a Friday half day.

Job sharing

Two people job share by each working part-time to accomplish the responsibilities of one full-time job. Arrangements might include splitting each workday or splitting each week by day.


Technology allows many different types of jobs to be conducted off site. Telecommuting is defined by working scheduled hours from home or another location. Schedules may vary from full time telecommuting with virtually no worksite presence, to telecommuting part of each day, one day per week, occasionally, or just on request.


Working fewer hours than the standard workweek, on an ongoing basis, constitutes a reduced schedule. Salary and benefits are typically prorated to reflect the percentage of full time hours worked. For example, 50% time would be a 20 hour workweek, and 80% time would add up to a 32 hour week.

Find more on recruiting and retaining employees at CareerOneStop’s Business Center.


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