Flexible work options are widespread, popular at Emory

Emory Report | Nov. 1, 2016

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More Emory staff than ever before are using a wide range of flexible work options, from telecommuting to compressed workweeks, according to a study from the WorkLife Resource Center and the Office of Institutional Research.

More Emory staff than ever before are using a wide range of flexible work options, including telecommuting, flexible schedules, swapping shifts and working compressed workweeks.

This is a major finding of a survey conducted by the Emory WorkLife Resource Center in partnership with the Office of Institutional Research.

Recently released results from the 2015 Campus-Wide All Staff Workplace Flexibility Survey indicate that the University is becoming a more flexible place to work. Overall, more staff are enjoying both formal and informal flexible work arrangements.

The results represent “great progress in the efforts to enhance workplace flexibility across campus,” says Audrey Adelson, manager of work-life programs.

Staff members who completed the survey reported that the greatest benefit of working flexibly is having the ability to manage work and personal time more effectively. Supervisors reported that the greatest benefit is a higher level of job satisfaction for staff members.

The survey garnered an overall 35 percent response rate, with 2,360 staff completing the survey. Nearly 34 percent or 1,741 staff non-supervisors on campus took the survey and approximately 40 percent or 616 staff supervisors completed it.

Key survey findings:

Flexible work arrangements: Staff reported participating in a wide range of flexible work arrangements. Working a flexible schedule was the most common option (46 percent) followed by telecommuting (35 percent). Nearly one-third of respondents reported working more than one flexible work arrangement.

Satisfaction: Staff with flexible work arrangements reported significantly higher satisfaction with their work arrangement (90 percent) than those working a more traditional arrangement of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on campus (56 percent). However, it is important to note that business needs may sometimes require a traditional schedule, Adelson says.

Telecommuting: For staff who telecommute, 53 percent reported that a formal work arrangement, such as telecommuting on a set day each week, is in place. A large percentage, 47 percent, also reported that they telecommute informally, with no set schedule.

Informal flexibility: Some 90 percent of respondents reported they had flexibility to attend campus events during regular work hours and 97 percent reported they had flexibility to deal with life events.

Comfort levels: Some 84 percent of staff reported they were comfortable discussing flexible work arrangements with their immediate supervisor.

While the data show that much progress has been made, other survey findings point out opportunities for improvement, Adelson says.

Key areas for improvement include increased, visible leadership and management support for flexibility when possible, additional training for supervisors in managing a flexible workforce, and increased access to and use of technology for better productivity while working flexibly.

The WorkLife Resource Center continues its work to educate the community about how flexibility can help improve employee attraction and retention and can enable employees to manage their work and personal responsibilities more easily.

The Center plans to work with other units where collaboration can benefit Emory, such as Sustainability and Healthy Emory.