Faculty and staff at Penn live complex lives that involve multifaceted personal responsibilities and complicated professional demands. In recognition of these complexities, the Division of Human Resources (HR) provides Flexible Work Options (FWO) guidelines for designing successful flexible work arrangements. These can help employees better manage their competing work and life commitments while positively impacting organizational goals.
The University has five basic FWO arrangements: Flextime, Flexplace, Compressed work schedule, Part-time work, and Job sharing.
“There are as many stories to why an office will benefit from flexibility and an individual will benefit from flexibility as there are differences in all of our lives because every situation is unique,” says Marilyn Kraut, director of HR’s Quality of Worklife Programs.
Flextime, the most requested FWO, accommodates varying arrival, departure, and/or lunch times.
With permission from his or her supervisor, an individual can, for instance, work 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. or 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. instead of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Likewise, a person could work 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. or 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Flexplace enables faculty or staff to perform a portion of their job off-site, usually at home.
“For some people, working from home gives them an opportunity to focus on work responsibilities with fewer office distractions,” Kraut says.
Individuals who use Flexplace primarily work in the traditional office setting and may, for example, work from home two days a week or one day a month.
“One of the challenges of Flexplace is important things can be happening when you’re not [in the office] so you want to make sure you have arrangements in place to keep up with what’s going on,” Kraut says. “It’s assumed you’ll probably be keeping an eye on your email, et cetera.”
“Also with Flexplace—or any of these arrangements—there has to be flexibility in terms of being willing to alter your arrangement if you’re needed in the office,” Kraut adds. “You have to be willing to be available on the days that you typically work at home to respond to the needs in the office.”
Faculty or staff on a compressed schedule work a traditional 40-hour week, but, for example, instead of working five eight-hour days, they may work four 10-hour days.
“People sometimes do this because they are taking a college or master’s or advanced degree course that meets every Friday or every Wednesday and they want to use that extra day for their professional development,” Kraut says.
Part-time work is a regular arrangement for between 17.5 and 28 hours a week.
Job sharing allows two staff members to share the responsibilities of one full-time position, typically with a prorated salary and paid time off.
Kraut suggests that all FWO be piloted for two or three months to ensure that the arrangement works for both the employee and the supervisor.
For more information about Penn’s Flexible Workplace Options, visit the HR website.
Originally published on March 20, 2014