What Are Flexible Work Schedules?
For the uninitiated, flexible work schedules are scheduled hours and days that fall out of the perimeters of the 9 to 5 schedule. In some companies, the hours must be arranged and the schedule agreed to with a supervisor or head of department, while in some companies, jobs with flexible work schedules can be applied to directly with the Human Resources department. One such company is AETNA who offers these benefits right on their website.
The most common agreements include:
- Starting work earlier or later than other employees and adjusting quitting time accordingly.
- Working a set amount of hours at the office and two or three days a week from home.
- Working at the office for 4 10-hour days and having 3 days off a week.
- Job sharing – Two employees share the workload and alternate days.
These are just some examples but depending on how accommodating the employer is and how persuasive the employee is, several possibilities are available. Of course, the type of job will largely determine what is possible and what is not.
While flexible work schedules are not mandated or required by law, some employers have seen the need to accommodate valuable employees who struggle to balance personal life and work life. Some examples include child care issues, or being a caregiver to a disabled family member or elderly relative. Some employers have found that giving employees enough flexibility in their working hours increases productivity and morale.
What Type of Jobs?
The best way to find a job with a flexible work schedule is to start in one's field of expertise and find a way to do the same job at a schedule that is more flexible and convenient. While most jobs fall into traditional fields, there are others less traditional or thought of positions that come with a pay check and flexibility.
- Registered Nurse – Employment agencies, hospital's human resources, nursing homes, school districts and any employer that hires anyone in this field can negotiate hours, temporary employment and even use expertise in areas that have little or no contact with patients. For instance, developing informational materials, arranging and providing instructional seminars to other professionals or caregivers, case management work to avoid costly duplication of services or liaison between patients and health providers in other fields.
- Court Reporters – Can work different hours, accept some assignments and skip others. There are day courts and night courts in many areas of the country and this is one way of creating the hours best suited to the worker without losing out on paychecks.
- Interpreters and Translators – They are hired by law enforcement at various levels, from the court system to police departments to social work and legal firms. The work can be more than 40 hours a week but it is not set on the 9 to 5 schedule. For those with a good track record and reputation, opportunities to travel with paid expenses is often a reality.
- Night Clubs – Bartenders, doormen, waitresses, DJs and bouncers. Mostly nights, but there is flexibility for which nights and what hours to work.
- Child Care – Centers that offer extended hours will hire workers on a part-time basis. Some are part of a large company that offer child care to its employees.
- Teacher's Aid or Substitute Teachers – These individuals choose school locations and when they accept opportunities.
- Writing – Blogger, news writer, or any type of writing that pays for submitting work online – people choose the assignments, establish their pay and meet deadlines. If a child is sick or an errand needs to be done, the work can be done later or earlier. The client only cares about the product being done well and submitted on time.
- Tax Specialist or Accountant – With a degree in the field, working for one company may be sufficient, but those who can and will do taxes and accounting for small businesses can potentially make as much or more but on their own time and schedule. Family owned restaurants, beauty parlors, ice cream shops, home-based day care centers and independent nursing homes are some of the possible clients that need to submit quarterly and yearly reports to the IRS and need someone to maintain their books on a monthly basis. The work is not only flexible but can be more profitable than a 9 to 5 position.
- Sign Language – This a field that pays very well when there are jobs available. Employers include law enforcement, the court system, legal offices and schools. The hours are based on assignments accepted.
- Computer Repair – Computer companies like Dell contract with independent companies in local areas to dispatch technicians to people's homes or businesses. Technicians get paid by the jobs they choose to accept and set their hours.
Companies That Offer Flexible Work Schedules
A CNN article listed the top 100 companies to work for, most of them offered additional perks and benefits in addition to flexible work schedules that included job sharing with other employees. From child care facilities on site paid by the employer to extended paid leave for both parents when having a new baby or adopting, to a beauty salon on-site and recreational/exercise facilities for employees. Please check out their link in the resources for the complete list.
Worthy of mention is Starbucks who is not only a fun company to work for, but has flexible hours and good benefits even for part-time employees that only work a few hours a month.
Sometimes trying to find a job with flexible work schedules is directly in front of us. Consider doing something for which you have a passion and turn it into a flexible part-time job that can easily become your primary source of income.
What some individuals have done:
A former commercial building manager turned her passion for being self-employed by filling a need in Colorado for people to get hard-to-find food products from Hawaii. She made contact with several grocery stores and became the middle-woman coordinating orders and delivery. Her flexible hours gave her all the time she wanted to raise her youngest child and have time for herself.
A former teacher with a passion for numbers began helping friends and relatives with their taxes and by word-of-mouth, he ended up doing this job exclusively during tax season. He got so many business referrals he now has an office in a commercial building with several employees and hired a partner to take over the business while he spends months at a time traveling for pleasure.
A registered nurse wanted to get out of the hospital scene and spend time with her young children. She switched from hospital to case manager and scheduled her work load to benefit her personal life. As long as her case load is up to date, she can work on weekdays or weekends if she chooses and do a lot of interviews and contacts from her home phone while her children nap or play in the yard.
In conclusion, most large companies claim to offer flexible hours but they are not all equal. Spend time comparing benefits, salaries and what each company calls flexible schedules. Some companies allow work sharing while others don't like employees working from home more than one or two days a week. Ultimately, the best job with flexible hours is the one that you can negotiate or create for yourself.
Aetna: Flexible Work Arrangements
Photo: Employment; US Dept. of Veteran Affairs