How Flexible Should Your Job Be?

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unnamed-1Illustrated by Mary Schafrath.
When it comes to work perks, flexibility is one of our favorite nice-to-haves — whether that means occasionally telecommuting from home, working variable hours or being part of a job share. In fact, a 2013 LearnVest study found that more than half of us would prefer a flexible schedule. But, are employers actually meeting this growing request?

Yes and no, according to new research from the Families and Work Institute. On the one hand, employers are increasingly allowing workers more daily flexibility — think perks like occasionally working from home (67% of companies offer this, up from half in 2008). Companies are also more willing to let workers attend to personal needs during the day, like picking up a sick child from school or spending the morning waiting for the cable guy.

But, when it comes to more innovative, long-term flex options, employers are drawing a harder line. Perks like sabbaticals, job shares, or the option to go part time are becoming increasingly rare, the study finds. For example, just 18% of companies today are open to job shares, while almost 30% of firms were in 2008.

What’s behind the switch? It’s likely an effect of the smaller staffs left in the wake of the recession. “[Companies] may be more reluctant to offer long leaves because they don’t have the financial margin to cover that,” Ken Matos, senior director of research at the Families and Work Institute, told the Wall Street Journal. “And they may be using day-to-day flexibility to compensate for the extra work people are doing when you have a smaller staff.”

If you’re itching for a more accommodating schedule, learn how to successfully negotiate for perks like sabbaticals and flex time, or take a cue from these real parents who scored flex jobs.
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