Flexibility helps staff get the job done

Flexible work arrangements have reduced stress for (left to right) Alicia Brill, Terri Dodds and Anna Marcotte of Human Resources.

Photo by Candace diCarlo

Alicia Brill has a lot of work to do as manager of recruitment services in Penn's Division of Human Resources.

So twice a month, she stays home to get it done.

Staff Recruiter Anna Marcotte finds that she needs some peace and quiet in order to get her work done in the same office. So she stays home twice a month as well.

And Office Systems Coordinator Terri Dodds needed to give the grandmothers of her newborn daughter time off from caring for the child, so she packs her five days of work into four.

And each of them are much happier as a result. And more efficient.

Marcotte and Brill chose to work from home as a response to the increased demands placed on them by a reduced work force in the Office of Recruitment and Staffing. "Each recruiter handles over 200 on-line job applications each week, and you just can't do it if the phones are constantly ringing and you're interviewing" walk-in applicants, Marcotte said.

Brill also has turned to working at home."It's something a lot of employees are facing - how to do more work with less resources," Brill said. The time spent at home gives her the quiet atmosphere she needs to focus on long-range plans. "I also don't have the stress of the two-hour commute to work," she added.

Dodds also chose to re-arrange her workweek to reduce stress - on her family. "I had a daughter in April, and [the four-day workweek] worked out better for me this way for daycare purposes," she said. Staying at home one day means that her mother and mother-in-law only need to look after her daughter two days each.

As it turned out, the compressed workweek - from 8 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. Tuesday through Friday - gave her quiet time to get things done as well. "It's very quiet when you come in early in the morning, and I can get work done before the phones start ringing," she said.

The schedule also frees up some personal time in an unexpected way. "I also miss some of the rush-hour traffic on the drive in."

The Division of Human Resources is offering workshops to help managers understand the benefits of flexible work options. Call 898-3400 for more information.

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Originally published on February 11, 1999