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Is flexibility equally advantageous for employers and

workers? A critical assessment

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Table of Contents
Introduction ............................................................................................................................................................ 3

Definition of flexible work arrangements: ............................................................................................. 4

Types of Flexible Working Arrangements .............................................................................................. 4

Part-time ......................................................................................................................................................... 4

Compressed Workweek ............................................................................................................................ 4

Flexi-time ........................................................................................................................................................ 5

Job-Sharing..................................................................................................................................................... 5

Tele-commuting ........................................................................................................................................... 5

Benefits of flexible work arrangements for employees and organization ...................................... 6

Benefit of Flexible Work Arrangements to Organizations ............................................................... 6

Benefit of Flexible Work Arrangements to Employees ..................................................................... 6

Effects of FWA on Human Resource Management ................................................................................... 7

Effects on Employee's Stress ....................................................................................................................... 7

Effects on Employee's Attitudes and Morale ......................................................................................... 7

Effects on Work-Family Balance ................................................................................................................ 7

Effects on Organizational Productivity .................................................................................................... 8

Conclusion: .............................................................................................................................................................. 9

References: .............................................................................................................................................................. 9

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Introduction
In todays ever growing and developing world, people are consistently working 24/7 that is
effecting their mental and physical health (Cooper, 2008). In such a scenario flexibility in
working systems may prove to be helpful. Individuals who possess control their working
hours show better commitment and job satisfaction.

Flexibility at work can take different forms including but not limited to telecommuting along
with conventional part-time jobs, variable working-time and job-sharing. These
arrangements may vary from country to country or organization to organization, reflecting
the control over working time an employee or employer can have regarding the work
completion and the total hours of work during a specific time frame (Cole, 2006).

The success of flexible working arrangement depends on the arrangements utilized, the
culture of the organization they are used in, the industry that organization belongs to, and
the flexibility relative the work itself. These factors when used in the implementation of
flexible working arrangements can increase the effectiveness (Stavrou and Kilaniotis, 2010).

These arrangements enable employees as well as the organizations to choose when, where,
and in how long work-related tasks are completed. Due the ever changing workforce
demographics and increasing employee demands for work-life balance, these flexible work
arrangements have become popular in the past decade (Wendt, 2010). Researchers (Bailyn
et al., 2001) suggest that job flexibility in time, place or otherwise can yield several benefits
to the employers as well as employees. These benefits may include better commitment,
decreased absenteeism, fall in turnover, and enhanced job satisfaction.

Many organizations are revising their working-time schedule whilst reacting to sectorial
competitive pressures and regulatory changes. these changes are fueled by the notion that
an employees control the hours worked and the hours of work a job needs have significant
effects on the scope of domestic as well as personal activities. To increase the
product/service responsiveness to ever changing market needs, organizations have set to
introduce flexibility measures in the work schedules, leading to satisfied and healthy human
resource (Eldridge and Nisar, 2011).

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Definition of flexible work arrangements:
Flexible work arrangements can be defined as benefits provided by employer that offers a
particular level of control to employees over time and place of work other than a standard
work schedule (Hill et al., 2001).

flexible working arrangements entail flexibility in the form of the worked hours and their
location all the while including; flexi-time, compressed working, variable-time working,
staggered hours, shift swapping, term-time working, job sharing, time off in lieu,
telecommuting, Sabbatical or career break, Zero-hours contracts, Part-time, and many other
forms.

Types of Flexible Working Arrangements


There are five commonly, referred to, types of Flexible work arrangements, Part-time,
compressed hours, Flexi time, Job- Sharing, and Tele-commuting.

Part-time
A work schedule that is less than full-time but however is more than the half of a regular full-
time working week. Part-time arrangements entails a reduced employee's hours of work,
varying from modest reductions to substantial working hour diminutions. Part-time work
has long been claimed to be one of the preferred arrangement for women with household
responsibilities enabling them to manage these commitments alongside work (Rubery and
Fagan, 1994; Tarrant, 2007).

Compressed Workweek
In this arrangement by extending the work days length, a regular working week is
compacted in to less than five days. most common arrangements being three twelve-hour
days or four ten-hour days in a work week (Sundo and Fujii, 2005). Even though a four-day
work week normally contains a prearranged day off, enabling employees to choose their day
off can increase flexibility (Combs, 2010). In other words a compressed workweek entails a
work schedule wherein employees work longer but fewer days in each work week (Dessler,
2008).

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Flexi-time
According to Dessler (2008) flexi-time arrangement is a work schedule wherein workdays
are constructed around mid-day hours, given all workers are present. This alternative work
arrangement, flexible work hours or flexi-time for short, generally comprise on flexible
workday start and finish hours (Ridgley et al., 2005). Flexi time arrangement do not modify
the number of work hours for which any employee was recruited, however out of these flexi-
time arrangements most incorporate schemes for surplus and deficit hour logging that the
employee might have acquired. (Gottlieb et al., 1998).

Job-Sharing
Job sharing proposes an arrangement wherein the remuneration, benefits, and
responsibilities a full-time job, is voluntarily shared by two people, whilst working part-time
(Perrine, 2009). Typical part-time employment opportunities are created through job
sharing when a full-time position is required. It differs from other part-time work by virtue
of the coordinated approach to job responsibilities that is required. There are many ways in
which time and responsibilities of a job can be shared. Time does not necessarily be divided
on a 50/50 basis. These proportions can vary depending upon the requirements of the job
sharers and the job itself (Branine, 2003; Rubery and Grimshaw 2003).

Tele-commuting
Also referred to as flexi-place, tele-work, and work at home, telecommuting provides an
arrangement wherein employees can work at home, at a client's location, or in a virtual office
for the work week of a part of it (Brown et al. 2009). Despite being present at their central
office, employees working as tele-commuters communicate through telephone, fax, or email
with their co-workers and supervisors. People who utilize more IT based work procedures
in their jobs tend to be more productive. Whereas telecommuting by its very nature requires
an intensive use of IT resources. For using these technologies and to manage their work from
different work places, telecommuters that belong to a formalized programs are provided
with advance level trainings and education (McGovern et al. 2007).

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Benefits of flexible work arrangements for employees and
organization
Benefit of Flexible Work Arrangements to Organizations
A better part of previous researches on flexible work arrangements take an organizational
standpoint by concentrating on the implications of these arrangements on the outcomes that
can principally profit organizations. The following points summarize the benefits as per
prior research base:

Increased productivity (Pierce and Newstrom, 1980),


Increase in organizational commitment (Glass and Finley, 2002),
Increased new candidate attraction to an organization that is providing flexi-time
(Rau and Hyland, 2002).
Increased employee job satisfaction (Baltes et al. 1999),
And reduced absenteeism and turnover (Hyland, 2000).

Benefit of Flexible Work Arrangements to Employees


Flexible work arrangements were put forward in an intent to reduce workfamily conflict by
enabling them to control their work schedule. The subsequent arguments summarize the
benefit these arrangements provide to employees as per researches in the respective field:

Increases vitality and creativity in the work-force (Schaefer, 2005);


Helps achieve work-life balance for employees in office-based jobs and reduces work-
family conflict henceforth (Hayman, 2009).
When employees are have control over their work schedule they feel relatively less
stresses (Almer and Kaplan, 2002);
flexible working hours make employees happy and who perceive that this happiness,
and discretion share attitudinal and behavioral links with an array of performance
variables (Atkinson and Hall, 2011).

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Effects of FWA on Human Resource Management
Effects on Employee's Stress
Where flexible work arrangements have been recognized as a mean to reduced employee
stress there is albeit comparatively limited research on the fact. Researchers gather that
flexible work arrangements assume a limited role in the reduction of employee stress levels.
However individual engaged in part-time and job-sharing arrangements enjoy life
satisfaction due to reduced work-family conflicts and feel in control (Dunham et al., 1987).
Improved retention policies, enhanced recruitments, increased productivity, lower
operating costs, decreased stress levels, reduced absenteeism and ability to manage work-
family responsibilities are accounted as the benefits an organizations can harvest by offering
flexible working hours (Sweeney 2003).

Effects on Employee's Attitudes and Morale


Research also provides insights on the affect flexible work arrangements can have on the
employee morale and attitude towards the work and the employer. Flexible work
arrangements prove to be a catalyst to attitudinal changes as frequently witnessed through
research. Despite the variance among the finding there is enough evidence to suggest that
flexible work arrangements and their implementation positively affects employee attitudes.
These increased morale and positive attitudes can lead the way to increased productivity
(Gottlieb et al. 1998).

Effects on Work-Family Balance


Gottlieb et al. (1998) suggest that flexible work arrangements provide employees with
means to balance work alongside family responsibilities. Hill, Ferris and Martinsons (2003)
studied whether and to what level the diverse work-locations of traditional offices, home
offices, or virtual offices impact work-family balance, motivation, turnover and career
opportunity and job performance. The findings suggest that home and virtual offices
enhance the job performance measures, whereas traditional office arrangements can
decrease the performance levels albeit due to conflicts in the family and work life. Contrarily,
work arrangements with a reduced working hours can contrive work-family conflicts. Hence
people working through the arrangements of job sharing, part-time work, and compressed

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work weeks tend to have minor levels of work-family intrusion. Altogether, a limited effect
of flexible work arrangements on work-family balance is observable though the findings. By
eliminating the run from work to home and home to work for the maintenance of work and
family apart from each other, satisfaction and fulfillment can be offered to employees, to
nurture their relationships with friends and family whilst completing the job required in
time and at their convenience (Hinz, 2011).

Another study (Saltzstein, Ting and Saltzstein 2001) reported varied effects and found trade-
offs being made by workers using the organizational family friendly policies. This associated
working at home that is on the clock with a positive effect on job satisfaction whilst having
a significantly negative impact on work-family balance. The researcher found that
compressed workweek schedules, childcare alternatives, and flexitime arrangements had
no effect over work-family balance. Albeit, childcare facilities and option whilst working
from home proved to have positive impact over job satisfaction, whereas other categories of
work arrangements like part-time schedules and compressed workweek schedules did not
have any influence over job satisfaction.

Effects on Organizational Productivity


Many studies ventured to inquire what impact flexible work arrangements can have on an
organizations productivity, whilst utilizing various measures of job performance along with
records of absenteeism and lethargy. The evidence gathered concerning the influence of
flexible work arrangements on organizational productivity is somewhat diverse (Gottlieb et
al. 1998).

Where some studies report productivity and performance enhancement with tele-
commuting arrangements (Bernardino, 1996). Some suggest that they remain the same
(Pratt 1999). Quite a few studies also examined the effects of compressed schedules on an
organizations productivity. Where some noted improved performance, the majority
observed no change in productivity of the organization (Barling and Gallagher, 1996).

Glass and Estes (1996) reported higher levels of productivity and lower turnover in the
mothers that were allowed to work through their homes; post-maternity. Some studies
observed improved productivity as a direct consequence of family-friendly policy

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establishment (Friedman, 1989; Shepard et al, 1996), others propagate job satisfaction to be
a byproduct of the satisfaction arising from work-family balance of an employee (Ezra and
Deckman, 1996). On the other hand Shumate and Fulk (2004) deemed working from home
a risk to productivity due to a parents difficulty in properly dividing their time among the
work and family responsibilities.

All factors kept in check, employees that are provided with effective and flexible work
arrangements are more likely to go out of their way for the success of their organization,
more likely possess greater job satisfaction, more likely to stay with the organization in
question and all the while more likely to be in greater physical and mental health.

Conclusion:
Flexible work arrangements can have an array of vital organizational effects and attitudes.
They can lead to higher levels of commitment, higher productivity, reduced stress, job
satisfaction and reduced absenteeism. Flexibility not only increases productivity and helps
recruitment and retention of qualified individuals, it also plummets costs. The complex
interconnections between personal and work life of an employee affects how they
experience flexible work arrangements. Irrespective of the benefits of flexible work
arrangements to organization the reasons for their implementation remain the improved
motivation and morale and worklife balance. Albeit organizations remain skeptical of
providing these options, heedless of their latent benefits, due to the difficulty in properly
evaluating their net-impact where costs are easily discernible then the benefits.

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