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July 23, 2001

Get ready, get set for flex time scheduling

Wynell Lauver is communications consultant for Human Resources.


In the coming months, you will be hearing a lot about Emory’s flexible work arrangements initiative.

“To enhance Emory as an employer of choice, it’s vital that we seek ways to enhance worklife,” said Alice Miller, vice president for Human Resources.

“Given Emory’s parking situation, government clean-air standards, and the ever-increasing commutes, we encourage departments to offer flexible work schedules telecommuting and other alternative work arrangements for employees whose jobs allow for it,” Miller said.

In a recent report, the President’s Commission on the Status of Women outlined types of alternative work arrangements offered by various University departments. The most popular arrangements are flex-time (where the hours worked are flexible) and telecommuting (where the location worked is flexible). Other, less common arrangements include job sharing, where two people share duties and hours in the same or similar job, and working extra hours during busy periods with the option to take time off during slow periods.

There are a variety of possible flex-time arrangements, such as a 7 a.m.–4 p.m daily schedule, or compressed workweeks, whereby employees work four 10-hour days with one weekday off.

Deb Moyers, director of resource planning for Facilities Management, said most of the Building Services staff work flex hours, with some employees starting as early as 6 a.m. and others as late as 9 a.m.

“We are always open to new ideas, and flexible work schedules was one that made sense,” Moyers said. “Employees can work the schedule that suits their personal preference. We just make sure we are staffed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and so far it’s been an overwhelming success. It really works well for us.”

The chemistry department has a unique compressed workweek, according to Donna Lawson, office manager. Employees who choose to—and whose jobs allow for it—may work one week with four nine-hour days (Monday–Thursday) and an eight-hour Friday and the next week four 9-hour days with that Friday off. Lawson said eight or 10 employees participate in this arrangement and enjoy having Friday off every other week.

Program Development Specialist La Shanda Perryman, who switched to a workweek of four 10-hour days, said her hours make her more productive. “Because I know I won’t be in the office on Friday,I have to plan my work and manage my time accordingly,” she said. “There are times, however, when I need to wrap up loose ends on a Friday. But overall, the positives of working a four-day week far outweigh the negatives—just ask my toddler, who enjoys his mom’s three-day weekends.”

Perryman’s supervisor, HR Training Manager Sharon DeHaven, added, “Personally, I believe offering flexible work schedules demonstrates a level of trust in your staff. We all benefit from offering alternative work arrangements, if the job allows. Such arrangements reduce absenteeism, lift staff morale and increase productivity.”

Productivity is also the main reason Beverly Cormican, assistant vice president for business management, chose to telecommute.

“Instead of spending two hours in traffic, I am getting work done in my home office,” she said.

“When I started telecommuting, I’d do it occasionally. But as my commute time steadily increased, so did the days I chose to work from home. Now it’s routine for me. With all the technologies available, it was a seamless transition for both myself and my staff.”

LaDonna Cherry, associate director of University Publications, echoed that sentiment. “When my commute kept getting longer and longer, I realized I could use that time spent in traffic more effectively by telecommuting. Working in my home office frees me from frequent interruptions, too. In fact, my most productive day is Wednesday, when I telecommute.”

Many supervisors are interested in offering flexible work arrangements but don’t know where to begin. A website is being developed to provide a source for University policy. It will offer practical, how-to information and support, as well as sample agreements/contracts between supervisors and staff.

Look for this site with resources for alternative work arrangements to come online sometime this fall.



Back to Emory Report July 23, 2001