The Inside Scoop on Flexible Work Arrangements

RICHMOND HILL, ON – You may have heard the term “flexible work arrangements” before. But what are they, how can they benefit my employees and my business, and how can I implement them at my workplace?

Flexible work arrangements refer to a combination of strategies that your business can use to give your employees flexibility in choosing the time or the location for their work.

What are the different classifications of flexible work arrangements?

Hands on a laptop keyboard beside a coffee, representing teleworkingTeleworking. By far the most widely-used strategy for businesses is teleworking. Telework entails employees working from an offsite location, most commonly from home.

Compressed Work Week. As its name suggests, this refers to employees being able to work the same hours of their regular workweek in fewer days. For example, if your employees commonly work 35 hours per week (i.e. 9am to 5pm, Mon-Fri), a compressed work week might allow them to compress those 35 hours into 4 days, allowing them to have longer weekend and commute outside of peak hours.

Flexible Work Hours. Lastly, flexible work hours, or “flex hours,” is giving your employees the flexibility to vary their departure and arrival times without changing the number of hours that they work. For example, employees with children or elderly parents or family may benefit from flex hours by being able to pick their kids up from school or better accommodate family member medical appointments.

The Benefits of Flexible Work

Flexible work arrangement strategies boast a wide variety of benefits, as summarized in the table below.

Benefits of Flexible Work Arrangements
Employees Employers Society
Reduced Commute Times Cost savings Reduced traffic congestion
Personal cost savings Attracting talent Mitigating climate change
Better work-life balance Improved employee retention Accessibility
Reduced Stress Reduced absenteeism
Increased productivity
Improved resilience

Flexible work gives employees the opportunity to avoid their commute altogether by teleworking or avoid traffic by shifting their commute to times outside of rush hours. This can mean significant savings of both money and time. (This is not considering other personal cost savings unrelated to the commute, for example the amount saved on childcare costs from being able to work one less day a week, or varying work hours to be able to pick children up from school). This is a primary benefit of flexible work to employees.

As a result, telework programs are an often sought-after benefit for workers, and can contribute to attracting better talent and improved employee retention.

Being flexible in the time and location of your employees’ work also allows for greater work-life balance – less time spent commuting means employees are better able to meet family obligations either at the start or end of the work day without the need to take personal leave time, thus reducing absenteeism at your workplace.

Happy Employees, Healthy Environment

Flexible work arrangements also help employers see positive impacts to their bottom line. In general, these strategies can help yield happier employees – and the research shows that happier employees are more productive. As such, improved productivity is often cited as a key benefit of both teleworking and compressed work weeks, which can mean positive impacts to revenue for your business. In addition, reduced demand on parking infrastructure and office space from allowing employees to telework can result in significant cost savings.

All of these strategies also have benefits for society more broadly, contributing to fewer greenhouse gas emissions, reducing traffic congestion, and making more efficient use of public resources by allowing employees to avoid their commute altogether or to shift their commute to off-peak hours. Compressed work weeks or flex hours can also allow your employees the freedom to try other, less-polluting modes of transportation to get to work – for example, employees who usually drive to work may be more inclined to ride their bikes or take transit if they are able to vary their arrival and departure times – which can further contribute to combating climate change. Lastly, teleworking can help to make your workplace more accessible to workers with disabilities or limited mobility.

The Limitations of Flexible Work Arrangements

Now, it’s important to note that flexible work arrangements are not one-size-fits-all. For example, if you are a manufacturer or brick-and-mortar retailer, it’s unlikely that solutions like telework would be suitable for you. In addition, if the opportunity for collaboration between co-workers is essential to your business, allowing employees to telework for a number of days during the week may not be suitable. However, flex hours or compressed work weeks may be – the challenging part is knowing which will work for your organization, and knowing what their impact might be for your organization.

Enabling Flexible Work at My Workplace

Thankfully, Smart Commute Markham, Richmond Hill has a number of turnkey solutions to enable flexible work arrangements at your workplace. Becoming a member of our transportation management association can give you access to a variety of valuable services, including access to our online resource hub, which has guidance on creating your own telework policy, custom projects such as a flexible work feasibility study, to assess your workplace needs related to flexible work, or pilot projects, to explore interest in and test flexible work arrangements at your workplace including impacts on staff satisfaction and productivity. Our experienced staff can work with you to find a custom solution that works for your business – for more information on becoming a Smart Commute Markham, Richmond Hill workplace, contact us at info@smartcommutemrh.ca.


CHRISTOPHER FORD, PROGRAM STRATEGIST | JANUARY 24, 2019