Just how popular have flexible workplace policies – those that allow flexible scheduling, telecommuting, etc. – become?
According to the recent flextime report by Working Mother and McGladrey LLP, more than half (53%) of companies are flexible on where staffers’ work gets done, and 59% are flexible on when the work gets done.
And a more detailed report of U.S. employers by Rotman Magazine found that 79% of firms allow some of their workers – and 37% of firms allow all or most of their workers – to switch up their starting and quitting times.
3 best practice to remember
Whether you have a flexible workplace policy that could be reviewed or you’re thinking of adding one, here are some best practices:
1. Take employees’ pulse. Because each workplace is unique, it’s a good idea to regularly survey workers about their flex needs/wants, and tweak the policy as those needs change.
2. Create a group (across different departments if possible) to establish goals and guidelines for the company’s flexible-work arrangements.
3. Properly train all managers. When front-line managers have all the tools they need to evaluate situations on a case-by-case basis and enforce flexible-work policies consistently, problems and legal issues are less likely to occur.
Even if your company doesn’t allow flexible work arrangements and has no intention of doing so, there are certain situations where you may be required to do so.
Reason: Courts have made it clear that working from home can qualify as a reasonable accommodation for a worker’s disability under the ADA.
What to avoid
Consistency is critical when it comes to flexible workplace policies.
In many cases, employers get themselves into trouble when they handle each employee’s flexible work arrangement as a separate event.
This type of management can easily lead to discrimination claims if:
- permission for staff to enter into a flexible work arrangement isn’t granted in a consistent way, which is an easy mistake when you’re looking at each request separately, or
- employees working remotely aren’t held to the same set of standards as those working on-site.