Five Types of Flexible Work Arrangements (FWA)

Workplace

A raging pandemic took the world by storm 2 years ago which changed our way of life drastically, forcing us to rethink and adapt to a changed world.  

We socialised differently and we found new ways to keep ourselves entertained. One of the most significant ways the pandemic affected our lives was changing the way we worked, forever.  

This shift in culture led organisations to invest more in employee welfare and come up with various innovative ways to change their workplace culture into a more flexible and enjoyable one that employees and employers can be proud of.  

Let’s look at the ways some companies have re-thought their working arrangements, both before and after the pandemic.  

1. Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE)

e.g GitHub and Asana  

ROWE is a popular Flexible Work Arrangements (FWAs) that measures employees’ abilities through their performance and the results that they produce, rather than the time they spend in the office or the number of hours they work.  

Under ROWE, employees receive full autonomy over their tasks and it’s their call to decide how they will achieve their objectives, by scheduling their own timelines and working hours.  

Pros:

  • Employees save energy and their commuting costs
  • Employees take lesser sick days and time off
  • Employers can opt out of having an office which can save on rental and utilities

Cons:

  • Difficult to communicate between employees with varying work schedules  
  • Might not work for everyone especially in companies with large collaborative groups  
  • Lack of overseeing might lead to unethical behaviour.  

2. Job Sharing

e.g Qualcomm, DBS

This is something for the professionals!

Companies practices this method where two professionals come together to create a partnership to carry out one job or task.  

An example of this would be when one person is working 3 days a week each, for the same position. They would usually have one overlap day in the middle (e.g., Wednesday) where both professionals can hand over their duties or any other responsibilities to each other.  

Pros:

  • Employees who can balance work and life through job sharing will experience less stress and burnout, resulting in higher productivity and quality of work
  • Employers can retain two valued employees who might have otherwise quit to pursue other options due to lack of FWAs
  • Higher level of problem solving due to more people on the job

Cons:

  • Chance for miscommunication between two people
  • Differing working styles/personalities may lead to conflict
  • Employer will suffer a cost of paying full time benefits to both employees.

3. Compressed Weeks (e.g., 9/80 Method)

e.g Qualcomm, Mambu

Employees can have the choice to compress their weeks. Compressed weeks allow employees to put in more hours on their regular workdays to get one day a week off, like the 9/80 method.

The 9/80 method allows employees to split 80 hours amongst 9 days over two weeks which can supply various results such as having eight 9-hour days, one 8-hour day and one day off. It could also be arranged to have a day off every week.

Pros:

  • Better work-life balance for employees with more days off
  • Longer work hours on workdays to get more work done  
  • Low absenteeism due to more time off

Cons:

  • Longer work schedules could cause lower productivity at the end of the day.  
  • Incompatibility with other businesses (clients, partners) who do not subscribe to this model  
  • Lesser time after long workdays may not take a toll on employees’ after-work activities

4. Unlimited PTO/Leave

e.g Fixx Digital, Netflix

Unlimited Paid Time Off (PTO) or leave, is a widespread practice employed by companies where employees can take paid leave without a limit on the number of days.  

Of course, one cannot simply take 365 days off a year! There must be a culture of trust fostered between employers and employees, to prevent abuse of such policies. Employees should also consider their performance and job needs before arranging any time off. Both parties working together in this regard can create an enjoyable and stress-free environment, where productivity can thrive!

Pros:

  • More frequent trips and vacations will boost employee morale, leading to higher productivity
  • Unlimited PTO is an attractive perk for possible hires, improving hiring rate and employee retention  
  • Creating an environment of trust and flexibility between employee and employer to foster better work-relationships

Cons:

  • Abuse of uncapped PTO by employees
  • Employers might approve fewer leaves or fear of being accused of abuse could lead to employees having lesser time off compared to if they were entitled to a set number of leave days.  
  • Inequality between employees who take longer PTOs than others may cause conflict and dissent.  

5. Telecommuting/Remote Work Options

e.g TheSmartLocal, Apple, GitLab

A popular method, made almost prevalent everywhere during the pandemic, telecommuting (or more commonly known as “remote work” or “Work from Home”), is a method of FWA where employees can carry out their work from anywhere that’s not the office. Employees will then rely on communication services to communicate with each other e.g., Microsoft Teams, Zoom.  

Gitlab is a company that embraces this kind of FWA, where operates fully remote with over 1500 employees located in over 65 countries. It has transparent KPIs of all employees, which are available to any public person. It is one of the biggest companies to embraces telecommuting, in the world today.  

With the presence of collaboration tools like Jira, Asana etc remote work has never been easier and more popular

Pros:

  • Massive savings in transportation costs, public and private.  
  • Opportunity for employees to spend longer times with their families/friends
  • Employers save huge costs in rental and utilities by not having a physical space to collaborate.  

Cons:

  • May be difficult for managers to supervise employees from remote
  • Company’s information security might be compromised  
  • More disruptions and distractions at home might result in lower productivity.  

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