What is flex work?

A flexible work arrangement can be any non-standard schedule, including flexible schedules, part-time work, job-sharing and telecommuting/remote work. It requires an agreement between the employee and manager, and to meet everyone’s needs, it often demands more structure than a standard schedule.

Flexible schedules

A flexible schedule involves hours that differ from the hours worked by other employees in the same department. This may involve a daily flex-schedule, a compressed work week, or even a “5 x 4” work week:

Daily flex-schedule

An employee sets his/her own work hours within guidelines established by management. Such arrangements usually include one or a combination of the following components:

  • Core hours – The hours in a work day when the department determines that all staff are needed. Meetings are typically scheduled during this time. Examples: Every day from 9 to 11 a.m., or all day Tuesdays, or Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

  • Bandwidth – The daily range of hours during which managers allow flexible scheduling (includes the core period). It defines the earliest time employees may arrive and the latest time they may leave.
    Example: 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Flexible hours – The hours an employee chooses to work.
    Examples: Under one approach, work schedules can vary daily within the bandwidth without prior approval as long as the staff member works the required amount of weekly hours. Another variation is staggered work hours, where employees begin and end at fixed times that do not change daily, but may change periodically.

  • Core obligations – The employee must be present for certain commitments and must agree to be reachable during normal working hours, but supervisors and employees schedule can schedule flexible hours around core obligations.

Compressed workweek

An employee completes a full workweek in less than five days by increasing the number of hours worked per day.

5 x 4 workweek

An employee may work four days in one week and five in the next, as long as the two-week total is 80 hours (based on a 40-hour work week). This arrangement may require the redefinition of a workweek for employees who are eligible for overtime.

A note about exempt employees: Exempt employees are paid to complete a job, not paid by the hour. Instead of thinking in terms of hours, exempt employees and their supervisors need to plan around the notion of core obligations and performance-based results. 

Reduced hours/part-time

Reduction in hours for a temporary or seasonal period of time, or as a permanent change. 

Example: Reducing to 80 percent from a 100 percent FTE.

Job Sharing

Two people fill regular part-time jobs and share the responsibilities of one regular full-time position, or one plus a fraction of a second position.

Example: each person works a total of three days, equaling 1.25 FTE.

Telecommuting/Remote work

An employee works off-site for a specified number of hours per week. An employee has no designated office space, and she/he works off-site.