Written by Audrey Adelson, MSW, WLCP
With increasing traffic challenges due to the I-85 bridge collapse, Emory University is encouraging employees to work flexibly as much as possible. Nearly 50% of Emory’s total population reportedly use some form of alternative commute program and large percentages of staff report working one or more methods of flexible work, so Emory is well-positioned to ease traffic issues and maintain productivity. Listed below are some tips and resources.
What is Flexibility?
Flexibility refers to a variety of flexible work options that enable greater control over how, where and when works gets done. Working flexibly is not synonymous with telecommuting. Telecommuting is only one of many flexible work options. Below is a list of common flexible work arrangements that are used at Emory. All of these options could be used to help increase work and personal productivity, ease traffic congestion, and reduce commute times and stress.
• Flexible Work Hours: when workday start and end times differ from the established
standard (8AM - 5PM), yet the same number of hours-per-day is maintained.
• Compressed Work Week: allows an employee to work a traditional work week in
less than five workdays. For example, working four 10-hour days instead of five 8-
• Telecommuting: working from home or a remote work location.
• Shift Flexibility: allows shift employees to work with co-workers to adjust their
schedules by swapping or trading shifts.
Finding the right flexibility for you
It’s important to keep in mind that not all jobs are suitable for all flexible work options. Approval of FWA should be based on job suitability and work performance, thus viewed as “reason neutral.” FWA require an acceptable level of performance and the ability to work independently, with minimal supervision.
When working flexibly, customer service levels should be no different from when working a traditional work arrangement. This means that there should be no difference in your level of professionalism or response times if you are working non-traditional hours or from a location other than your Emory office space. It also means that working flexibly should not adversely impact another staff member’s workload.
When assessing job suitability for flexibility, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Does my job require physical presence on campus?
2. Does my job provide direct services to students, patients, or research subjects?
3. Does my job require immediate access to University resources?
4. What percentage of my time does my job do these things?
5. What percentage of my job can be done from another location and/or time (as
compared to now)?
In addition to flexible work options, other ways to help ease the inconveniences caused by the I-85 collapse include:
• Establishing blocks of time by work group when no meetings are scheduled.
• Reducing meetings that start in the early morning/late afternoon.
• Using collaboration software and online meeting tools to maintain productivity and
avoid unnecessary travel (many employees already have access to such
technologies. If you use Office 365, you have Skype for Business).
• Using tools such as bridge lines, conference calls, GoToMeeting, Adobe Connect,
WebEx, Box, etc. can also be helpful.
Quick Tips for Managers with Flexible Work Teams
Quick Tips for Staff Working Flexibly
• Emory WorkLife Resource Center - Resources and assistance to help with the
management of work-life effectiveness including flexible work arrangements, raising
a family, managing the care of an adult loved one, and financial education.
• Library Information Technology Services (LITS) - Resources and support are available
to faculty and staff to maintain productivity and customer service levels while work
flexibly. Tools are available to help with online collaboration, instructions for
forwarding a phone, ensuring seamless communication and holding virtual meetings.
Many of these services require the submission of a ticket and a time for initial set
• Commute Alternative Programs - A variety of commuting options and resources are
available via Transportation and Parking Services including van pools, carpools, ride-
matching programs, public transit, Emory park-and-ride, and campus shuttle options.
Questions – Contact Emory WorkLife Resource Center at (404) 727-8000.