Alternative Work Arrangements

by Larry Allen

Would you like to join over 30 million U.S. workers that have flexible work arrangements? Its not impossible, but you'll have to have a well thought-out plan to make it a reality.

Before you start developing your plan, it important to understand the most common alternative work arrangements. Deciding which one may work best for your situation is the first step in developing a convincing proposal to your current/prospective employer.

Benefits to Employers/Clients

At first glance, some employers may view alternative work arrangements as a concession to employees, but upon review -- the company benefits the most to gain from these arrangements. Here's how:

Minimized Turnover -- more schedule flexibility, less turnover.

Less Costly Employee Benefits -- in retirement and health care coverage's.

Better Suited for Fluctuating Business Levels -- regardless of circumstances.

Less Fixed Costs -- can reduce office space and/or related expenses.

Common Types of Flexible Work Arrangements

For our discussion, lets define a flexible work arrangement as any work schedule that isn't regular full-time employment. Here are the most common.

Flex time

The employer allows its workers to set their own hours as long as a set number of hours are met each week. Instead of working 9-5, someone may choose to work 7-3, 10-6, etc. You may need to commit to being available during the "prime work hours," 10am-3pm. This is a fair concession if your employer/client is having reservations about your availability.


Employees are now working 15-20 hour weeks as part of a growing trend of permanent part-time arrangements. You may not have enough work to justify full-time hours, but you can offer this arrangement as an alternative to hiring temporary workers. Show the value of not having to be trained, also mention the fact that the employer already knows what they're getting!

Job Sharing

This arrangement involves two or more workers sharing one full-time position -- with each working the hours that are most convenient for him or her. If you're not a morning person, you may find the afternoon hours more convenient and vise versa.


Full or part-time employees work from home. Communications to the office are done via computer and/or phone. This is great option if you need a set day or two. Some employees who travel frequently often use the beginning of the week as a telecommuting day to catch up on correspondence, reports, etc.

Flexible work arrangements can help you cope and quickly adjust to a world of change in this technologically-demanding business environment. Find out what types of flexible work arrangements your employer and/or clients permit and what guidelines, if any, there are. If there's a written policy, review it and learn how benefits, compensation and career track are affected by flexibility.

If not, you'll probably be asked to submit one in writing. For additional information on that subject please read the report titled Developing Your Proposal For A Flexible Work Arrangement.