Flexible Work Arrangements: What you need to know

There are a lot of different types of flexible work arrangements (FWA) out there. From full work-from-anywhere to partial remote work and condensed work weeks, employees have many options. Even more so now many job seekers consider remote work or a FWA a prerequisite when applying to a new position. It’s important to know what options you have as an employee, and how you can achieve the level of flexibility that works for you. By using the following list as a guide you can discover what flexible work arrangement suits you best. 

Start finding the right flex arrangement for you by understanding the company-wide policies already in place. Those are the general guidelines you can expect to negotiate in. The next step is to consider the specific ways of working in your team. Then you can assess the potential for individual agreements based on direct negotiations with the employer. 

There a various statistics about the benefits and global adoption of flexible and remote working. These further increase the pressure on more and more companies to draft flexible working policies. Here are some key benefits:

  • Productivity increased by 35-40% with remote workers compared to those in-office.
  • Companies have the potential to save up to EUR10,000 per part-time telecommute. This is due to fewer sick days, less office space and business expenses.
  • Overall fewer absences and better retention rates. 

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In this guide, we lay out the different types of flexible work arrangements so you can find the right one for you. From location flexibility to time flexibility, finding what works for you starts with understanding the basic principles of each.

Location Flexibility

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Partially Remote or Partial Telecommuting

Partially remote and telecommuting can refer to in-office and remote employees that interchange as required. You can also say that a company is “partially remote” when some employees work on-site permanently while others work only remotely. However, you can also individually be partially remote, spending some time at the office or telecommuting from another location.

If you have a flexible location policy, or “work-from-anywhere” policy, then your actual working location can vary. From working at home or coworking space to travel & work to foreign countries. However, this often comes with legal complexities and is still fairly rare at the moment. One of the main advantages of partial remote work is that you can choose a location. This can be where you feel the most comfortable, productive and inspired. However, not all partially remote arrangements allow you to work from different locations. So it’s important to thoroughly clarify the expectations with your employer. 

Remote First

A Remote-first company is remote by default like an office is for non-remote companies. Working remotely is the primary and usually the only option for working. Being remote-first also means things like meetings and those post-it notes you have on the whiteboard are all virtual and easily accessible for everyone. Apps like Mural, Trello, Google Docs, Zoom and Slack will help you connect with colleagues and build a virtual office. Additionally for those impromptu chat sessions in the break room, apps like Remo and Hopin  further help to build those connections you might miss from being in-office. A remote-first approach is right for you if you are confident working asynchronously and autonomously. You will rarely see co-workers face-to-face, and collaboration happens largely virtually, even if you decide to work from an office (should the company have one).

Local Hubs

Local hubs can be a version of partially remote work and often operate with a “remote-first” mindset. Companies working with a local hub strategy maintain several location hubs with offices for better collaboration and tax reasons. If there’s a large number of new employees getting hired in one location, it makes sense to open up a hub there. Some companies consciously hire in the proximity of hubs but are still quite flexible and allow work from other locations. Generally speaking, many traditional companies will likely adopt a hub approach around key offices. Those who are strategic about it, analyse employee and client preferences and needs and maintain their hubs according to that.

Work-from-Anywhere

Remote organisations with/without offices that allow everyone to work asynchronously from where they choose. That usually means somewhere you are most comfortable and productive. This is a great option for travellers (digital nomads) or family-oriented people. If you’re wanting to be with your partner or family in a different location then working from anywhere gives you that benefit.

Time Flexibility

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Condensed Workweek

A condensed or compressed workweek reduces the typical 5-day work week into less, for example, 4 days. This can mean you have longer working days. Whether that is the same amount of hours or fewer work hours overall. In an era with a focus on work-life balance, this is a great option if you’re looking for more personal time. Some companies that have seen success with a condensed workweek include Perpetual Guardian, Unilever and most notably the Microsoft Japan trial. What started as a trial at Unilever has now been implemented company-wide across continents. This included over 1,000 employers with over 300 in the UK. There’s been no loss of productivity but rather an increase of 40% as seen by Microsoft Japan. This makes time flexible FWA definitely a worthwhile option. 

Flex Time

Flextime (or flexitime/flexi-time) is the term for a flexible working schedule compared to the traditional 9-5 working schedule. It enables you  to work around your individual schedules rather than living around work schedules. With this flexible work arrangement there is usually a required working time set by management called core hours. However, outside of that such as your start and finish time can vary. This is a common option for working parents and carers, who need a high degree of flexibility around the schedules of people they are responsible for such as children or elderly relatives. Usually, the amount of work and hours is the same, but one result of working with a flexible schedule is a potential for higher productivity and effectiveness.

Flexible work arrangements are not uncommon, especially now. However, understanding what flexible work arrangement is right for you and explaining this to your manager is no easy task. It’s important to know the ins and outs and how beneficial it will be to them, not just you. 

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