I’ve been working on a few articles over on Unretirement Project about caregiving. One of them focuses on how employee caregivers can talk with their managers about their caregiving responsibilities. But it occurred to me as I was writing that article, it can be tough for managers to remember all of the different types of flexible work and scheduling that organizations have to consider. So, I thought it might be good to start a list.
Of course, the options available are going to vary based on the job. And even when there are multiple options to choose from, there will be pros and cons. But the point here is to make sure organizations are considering all of their options.
- Telecommuting means working from home. Organizations and employees need to think about what a work from home arrangement would involve in terms of technology, data security, in-person meetings, etc. Remote work means working outside of the office, which may or may not be at home.
- Compressed work weeks are when employees work four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days. The idea is that employees work the same amount of time in fewer days. I’ve worked for companies where employees who worked second or third shift received the benefit of a compressed work week.
- Flexible hours can be defined as employees who come in early and leave early OR come in late and stay late. Many organizations accommodate employee family requests in this way. There’s also a subset of flexible hours that might include a mealtime flex or vacationflex (i.e. unlimited vacation time).
- Job sharing takes place when two people work part-time instead of one person working full-time. I heard a story recently where two full-time school principals were planning their semi-retirement and decided to job share instead of fully retire.
- Part-time employment most of us are familiar with. It means a less than full-time workload and schedule. On-call or seasonal work isn’t guaranteed at the same levels as full-time or part-time, but it does offer employees the ability to have control over their schedules.
- Freelancing is the one option where we’re not talking about employees. Freelancers are essentially outside contractors who are paid via Form 1099. But it is an option. Especially if that new contractor knows they’re getting a nice gig with their former employer at the start.
If your organization is considering any of these options, it’s a good idea to think about what implementation might involve. Talk with your legal and risk management departments for their insights. According to Pew Research, there are over 40 million unpaid caregivers in the U.S., that means the chances of an employee approaching their manager about the subject are pretty good.
You’re tired of me saying this but recruiting is tough. Finding ways to retain employees is a top priority. If a high-performing employee comes to you tomorrow and said they need some support because they’re responsible for caregiving, I’d like to think the company would help them. To find the best solution for caregivers and all employees means understanding every option.
(Editor’s Note 3.4.2023) Since we published this, we’ve found a resource from This Old House that might be helpful: https://www.thisoldhouse.com/home-safety/reviews/safety-for-seniors. Some of the home safety suggestions apply to anyone at any age, like home security. I thought the section titled “Other Senior Safety Tips and Tricks” was a list of good reminders.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby after exploring the streets of Salt Lake City, UT17