More to consider
Getting a flexible work arrangement can be
situation specific. Even if an organization is in favor of
flexible options, there is no guarantee that you will be
allowed to use them.
Employer reluctance to embrace flexibility
may be based on previous failed attempts. "If a boss
had a bad experience with an employee who misused the
policies, he or she will feel differently than if it was a
positive experience," says Backon. "Both
employers and employees need to know that workplace
flexibility must work for the business as well as for the
And flexible options have disadvantages.
Overall, jobs that allow greater flexibility require you
to be more accommodating, too. Celarek’s position, for
example, involves a certain amount of give and take. Her
workload—and earnings—can be unpredictable. And if she
doesn’t get everything done during regular business
hours, she might need to stay awake until 1 or 2 a.m. to
One way to create scheduling flexibility
is to work less. Working less can mean being on the job
fewer hours each week or having more time off during the
Cutting back on work hours frees up time
for other activities.
Working less is not always voluntary. Some
workers end up taking part-time or temporary positions
when they can’t find full-time or permanent ones.
Yet for workers who choose to log fewer
hours, arrangements such as part-time jobs, job sharing,
and on-call, temporary, contract, and seasonal work are
If the standard 40-hour, 9-to-5 schedule
sounds like too much, then maybe you want a part-time
As defined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor
Statistics (BLS), working part time is working between 1
and 34 hours per week. BLS data show that in 2006, most
people who usually worked part time did so for personal
reasons, such as childcare, school, or retirement from a
full-time job. Schedules of these part-timers varied, but
they worked about 21 hours per week on average.
Pros and cons. With a
part-time job, you can earn a regular, although reduced,
paycheck and maintain ties to the workforce. Plus,
part-timers like that they have more time for the things
that motivated them to seek flexibility in the first
place. "Definitely," says Celarek, "the
best part of my job is being there for my children."
But before reducing your work hours,
consider how your financial situation will be affected by
earning less. Calculate your monthly expenditures, taking
into account any savings in work-related expenses, such as
commuting or daycare, and compare them with your expected
earnings. This will help you figure out if a part-time
income is sufficient.
Also remember that part-time workers often
receive reduced benefits, such as employer contributions
to healthcare or retirement plans. Reduced benefits may be
prorated, which means that the employee is required to
preparation. Table 2 shows occupations in which part-time
work was common and in which workers had median wages of
more than $20 an hour in May 2006. (Median wages are the
point at which half of all workers in the occupation made
more than the amount, and half made less.) These data are
for both full- and part-time workers; hourly wages of
part-timers can be higher or lower than those of their
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