Emory Report
August 3, 2009
Volume 61, Number 36


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August 3, 2009
Rethinking the way we work

By Katherine Hinson

With Emory’s recent recognition as a “Great University to Work For,” Emory Report sat down with Theresa Milazzo, associate vice president of human resources, and John Kosky, associate director of the Emory WorkLife Resource Center and Compensation, to learn more about Emory’s Alternative Work Arrangement (AWA) program. “Supporting employees, where possible, when they prefer flexible work arrangements helps make Emory a great place to work,” says Milazzo.

Q: What does workplace flexibility mean?

Workplace flexibility is defined as alternatives to how, when and where work is organized. Alternative work arrangements (AWA), which include flextime, telecommuting, compressed work weeks and job sharing, are tools that allow organizations to implement flexibility programs in a structured, consistent manner.

Q: What are the costs and benefits of offering AWA programs?

A: Most AWA programs do not involve a direct cost to the University. In some cases, AWA programs can tually reduce administrative overhead expenses. Employees working from home will consume less energy, space and other University resources. Studies have shown that employees who work for flexible organizations tend to be more satisfied and engaged.
Flexible organizations also enjoy a competitive advantage in labor markets, gaining an edge in recruiting top talent. Other benefits include reinforcing a culture of sustainability, and ensuring ongoing operations in the event of a crisis or emergency.

Q: What types of positions are appropriate for AWA and how is AWA applied across campus?

A: Most positions are eligible for some form of alternative work, including nonexempt staff. However, some job classifica-tions are not suitable for certain alternative work arrangements such as telecommuting or compressed work weeks. Usage also will vary by department, based on the department’s operational needs. In departments that operate 24/7, perform clinical or laboratory research, or provide direct services to internal customers, AWA may not be the best solution.

However, there are other creative ways to infuse flexibility in daily practices, i.e. designating one day each month as “meeting-free” or implementing short-term AWA programs during non-peak periods.

Q: How are decisions regarding AWA made?

A: Developing an AWA is a joint responsibility between you and your manager. A number of factors can influence the decision or format, such as operational requirements, office coverage, effect on the work team, etc. Managers must also be mindful of wage and hour laws when evaluating AWA requests for nonexempt staff.

The WorkLife Resource Center is available to advise managers and employees on AWA implementations. For more information, contact the Center at (404) 727-8000 or visit www.worklife.emory.edu.