You may be surprised to find out that there actually is a lot of flexibility in the workplace -- and you can (and should!) ask for it.
woman at work on computer
Credit: Fancy Photography/Veer

Gone are the days of working a straight 9-5 job in the cozy comfort of your cubicle under harsh fluorescent lighting. Slowly but surely, many companies in today's workplace are embracing the concept of work-life balance and helping their employees achieve it. Here's what you need to know.

You Can Change When You Work

Options abound as to when you can start -- and stop -- your workday.

Flexible working hours. Employees can adjust their schedules according to the needs of the day. Whether your kid misses the school bus or you just need a few hours to run some much-needed errands, working a flex schedule allows you to get it all done. Numerous studies have shown that companies that offer flexible hours have increased employee retention rates, with workers who are engaged and highly satisfied with their work life balance.

Part-time hours. Instead of working a typical 40-hour workweek, employees have the ability to work fewer hours. From employees who are part of the sandwich generation, trying to take care of aging parents while juggling childcare, part-time hours offer great flexibility for those who can't commit to a full-time position.

Compressed hours. Like to have your Fridays free? Well, working a compressed schedule can allow you to have that. You'll still work a full-time schedule, but in fewer days. For example, you might work four 10-hour days as opposed to five 8-hour days. This will give you one (or more) day off per week to spend time with family, pursue other interests, or just relax.

You Can Change Where You Work

You may love your job, but not the killer commute and required business attire. Here are some choices as to where you can work.

Telecommuting. If you're tired of cubicle life, you can leave it all behind to work from the comfort of your home office. Depending on the type of work you do, you may work a full-time or part-time schedule. Working from home is not only a greener way to work because it reduces your carbon footprint, but it's also more cost-effective for both employer and employee. You'll save on extra expenses, such as commuting costs, expensive lunches and fancy office attire, and your employer may save by not having to lease a large office space or maintain extra work tools and equipment.

Working remotely. You may have a home headquarters to report to, but when you work remotely you might find yourself working from a satellite office or even a client's office. Since your location can change depending on the day, this option is good for those who like to switch things up and not have the same routine, day in and day out. It's also ideal for employees who want the option to work independently but still crave a little face-to-face interaction from time to time.

You Can Change How You Work

If you thought that a job meant one person in one position, think again. Read on to see the different ways in which you can work.

Job sharing. In essence, job sharing is achieved when two people share the same full-time job. Job sharing can be done in-office or by telecommuting, or a mix of the two, although typically one person does work from home. While it's technically a part-time position, a job share means that both you and your colleague will be 100% responsible for the work produced. The salary is generally split 50/50, but you might be able to negotiate a higher wage depending on your experience and expertise.

Freelance or Contract. Working in a freelance?position is a lot like option D on a test -- all of the above. Freelancers tend to be telecommuters, who may or may not work full-time, depending on the project assigned to them. They can generally set their own hours and work remotely, although they might have to check in to an office at times. They can also choose to work a compressed schedule, burning the midnight oil for one project and then clocking in regular business hours for the next. The caveat -- freelance or contract-based work is not consistent, so you'll have to be proactive to secure employment.

The next time you sit down with a hiring manager during a job interview, keep in mind the different job flexibility options you can ask for. That way, you can truly customize your career to work with your lifestyle.

Jennifer Parris is the Career Writer for FlexJobs, an award-winning service that helps job-seekers find professional opportunities that offer work flexibility, such as telecommuting, freelance, part-time or alternative schedules. To learn more about Jennifer, visit or tweet @flexjobs.


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