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Think Beyond Telecommuting When Looking for Flexible Work

Topics: Career Advice
flexible work
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Working from home isn’t for every worker — and even if it were, it might not be for every manager or every employer. Although 100 percent telecommuting roles remain the most popular flexible work option with workers, according to jobs site FlexJobs, other types of non-traditional work schedules aren’t far behind.

When asked which types of flexible work interested them, respondents to a FlexJobs survey said:

  • 100 percent telecommuting (86 percent)
  • Flexible schedule (73 percent)
  • Partial telecommuting (49 percent)
  • Part-time (48 percent)
  • Alternative schedule (48 percent)
  • Freelance (44 percent)

2017: The Year of Flexible Work?

The good news for workers: there are signs that employers might be more willing to get on board with some form of flexible work in the coming year.

“Workplace experts see 2017 as the year when companies will put more structure around flexible work options, provide more manager training and find ways to measure flexibility’s effectiveness,” writes Cindy Krischer Goodman at The Miami Herald. “…With the job market tightening, staffing firms such as Robert Half believe companies of all sizes will allow more flexibility when possible.”

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It’s a trend that’s been brewing for a while. A 2015 survey from WorldatWork and FlexJobs found that 80 percent of employers offered flexible work arrangements.

Where to Find Flexible Jobs This Year

Some job categories offer more opportunities than others, when it comes to working on a different schedule, telecommuting, or going part-time. These categories added the most job listings last year, according to FlexJobs, and are poised to continue growing in 2017:

  1. Medical & Health
  2. Customer Service
  3. Administrative
  4. Sales
  5. Computer & IT
  6. Education & Training
  7. Accounting & Finance
  8. Project Management
  9. Software Development
  10. Data Entry

Beware the Pitfalls

The benefits of switching up your 9-to-5 schedule are pretty clear. Whether you need to balance taking care of family or want more time during the day to devote to a hobby, working this way can make your life easier in innumerable ways. But, that doesn’t mean that it’s without complications.

The WorldatWork survey showed that while 80 percent of employers surveyed offered flexible work options, only 37 percent had a formal written policy.

“Most don’t have a formal policy in place,” writes Hannah Morgan at U.S. News. “…An additional problem is that 67 percent of managers offer flexibility at their own discretion. This adds inconsistency in interpretation and administration of an already contentious work benefit.”

Flexibility at the discretion of a manager is likely to disappear should reporting structures change. In addition, lack of clear expectations can make it difficult for workers to know whether it’s really OK to work from home, etc. Will working on a different schedule take them off the promotion track, or cost them percentage points on their raise? In the absence of a formal policy, it’s hard to tell.

The bottom line for workers is that the best flexible work options are the ones that are spelled out. If you’re looking for a job that will allow you some scheduling freedom, make sure the rules are codified in the law of the corporate land.

Tell Us What You Think

If you could work flexibly, which option would you prefer? We want to hear from you. Tell us your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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