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Flexible Job Assignments Definition

Flexible working gives employees flexibility on how long, where and when they work. Employees access flexible working through human resources policies, which usually require supervisory approval.

Flexible working is comprised of three main arrangements: full-time, part-time and career flexibility. Full-time flexible options include:

  • Flexible hours (flextime) - the ability to choose the start and finish time of the working day within core hours;
  • Telework (flexplace) - the chance to work from home or another place one or several days a week;
  • Time banks - the ability to take time off in compensation for overtime;
  • Compressed work weeks - such as working four longer days and taking the fifth day of the week off, or working a nine day fortnight.

Part-time options include working a few days a week, say three days instead of the traditional five days, and other forms such as v-time-working.The "v" stands for voluntary reduced hours, with the individual working to an agreed reduced schedule for a certain period, for example during the school holidays, with the chance to work the usual hours after that period ends.

Job-sharing is also an interesting form of part-time flexible working where two people share a full-time position, either by working three days each in the week with one day of overlap or they alternate one week each.

Career flexibility (flex career) allows individuals to change careers and/or take career breaks for personal or family reasons without suffering career penalties. Career flexibility involves challenging the traditional career ladder of containing a continuously upward path with workers likely to fall back to the bottom of the career ladder if they change their careers.

Instead, a career latticecan be organised where individuals may take different paths, including lateral ones, and career breaks. Career flexibility also includes a gradual return from maternity leave, for instance, returning part-time for a certain period then going full-time afterwards. Career flexibility also includes gradual phasing into retirement such as going from full-time to part-time for a certain period and then retirement.

At Accenture in France, employees may work from home one to three days a week if their supervisor agrees to the arrangement. In 2011, fifty percent of support functions staff currently work from home.

The arrangement includes supervisor training on virtual management and a grievance procedure in case supervisors reject the request to work from home.With the telework agreement at Accenture, employee satisfaction with work-life balance has soared.

Deloitte and Touche allows employees to leave the organisation for up to five years to pursue personal interests such as raising children or training for a sporting activity. (Source: Great Place to Work Institute).

At Hewlett Packard in Grenoble, France, there are VP positions filled by two people in a job share, where both partners get evaluated and promoted as a pair. [1]

Human resources: power to the people

Workplace Flexibility Definition, Skills, and Examples

What does workplace flexibility mean and why is it important? Flexibility on the job includes the willingness and ability to readily respond to changing circumstances and expectations. Being flexible when it comes to work is worth a lot. Employees who approach their job with a flexible mindset are typically more highly valued by employers.

Why Employers Value Flexible Employees

Essentially, flexible employees are more valuable.

Workers with an orientation towards flexibility never say, "It’s not my job" or "Do I have to?" when they are asked to take on a new assignment. Flexible employees modify their approach to tasks based on the preferences of stakeholders and the unique demands of each situation. 

Having employees willing to step outside their job description means employers can get more accomplished. Flexible workers who are able to take on more responsibilities, do different tasks, and do more at work have more to offer their employer than employees who can only do one or two tasks. Having flexible employees means not having to find others to take on more work because flexible employees are willing to do whatever is necessary to get the task accomplished or the job done.

Why Employees Value Flexible Managers

Flexibility works both ways, and employees appreciate having managers who are flexible. Flexibility skills are also relevant to the approach management takes to handling employees.

 Flexible managers treat employees as individuals and make an effort to accommodate personal styles and needs. 

Managers who are flexible provide workers with greater latitude about the way they accomplish goals. They assess the needs of employees and provide feedback, guidance, and recognition individually to optimize performance.

Being flexible is good for everyone.

Share Examples During Job Interviews

Flexibility is a trait most employers look for in an employee so regardless of what type of job you are applying for, it will benefit your candidacy if you can show the interviewer examples of how you are flexible and willing to change course. Take some time to write down different times you believe you were flexible at previous jobs (and be proud of yourself if it’s a long list).

Examples of Workplace Flexibility Skills 

Not sure exactly what makes a person flexible at work? Review these examples of flexibility, and tailor your interview responses to show examples of how you’ve been flexible at work.

A - L

  • Admitting an oversight with accounting for expenses and suggesting alternative ways to avoid similar mistakes
  • Allowing employees to work from home when feasible to help balance work with family responsibilities
  • Analyzing the style and preferences of individual subordinates 
  • Assessing the needs and preferences of individual customers
  • Customizing cover letters to emphasize skills which correspond to the unique requirements of target jobs
  • Delegating routine tasks in order to focus on priorities
  • Enabling non-essential employees to work from home on snow days 
  • Enabling workers to vary arrival and departure times as long as they work the prescribed number of hours 
  • Initiating an evaluation of alternative processes for processing loan applications
  • Learning complex, new software that will increase efficiency
  • Listening carefully to constructive criticism as part of a performance review

O - Z

  • Offering to cover the responsibilities of a colleague while she is on vacation
  • Offering to work extra hours during a year-end crunch
  • Praising the work of a productive employee more frequently because she craves feedback
  • Providing release time for parents to attend school programs
  • Pushing aside the work planned for the day to respond to an emerging problem
  • Rewarding subordinates who make impactful suggestions
  • Shifting attention to a customer entering the facility even though immersed in detailed task
  • Substituting social media for some traditional communications as a way to engage prospective students 
  • Surveying clients about their experience with the company and modifying service delivery based on the findings
  • Tailoring a sales pitch to the unique needs of a customer
  • Volunteering to change your schedule to accommodate another employee's needs
  • Volunteering to take the lead for a key presentation when a colleague comes down with an illness
  • Working overtime to help a colleague meet a deadline for a funding proposal

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