By: Audrey Adelson, MSW, WLCP
Results from a 2015 survey of Emory University staff reveal that the university is making great progress in its efforts to enhance workplace flexibility across campus. The survey, conducted by the Emory WorkLife Resource Center, in partnership with the Department of Institutional Research, shows that more Emory staff than ever before are using a wide range of flexible work options from telecommuting and flexible schedules to swapping shifts and working compressed work weeks.
• Response Rate: The survey garnered an overall 35% response rate with 2,360 staff
completing the survey (with nearly 34% (1741) of staff non-supervisors on campus
taking the survey and roughly 40% (616) of staff supervisors completing it).
• Flexible Work Arrangements: Staff reported participating in a wide range of flexible
work arrangements. Working a flexible schedule was the most common option (46%)
followed by telecommuting (35%). And, nearly one-third of all staff reported working
more than one flexible work arrangement.
• Satisfaction: Staff with flexible work arrangements reported significantly higher
satisfaction with their work arrangement (90%) than those working a more
traditional arrangement of 8am to 5pm on campus (56%). It is important to note
that business needs may sometimes require a traditional schedule.
• Telecommuting: 53% of staff who telecommute reported that a formal work
arrangement is in place (i.e. working a set day each week). A large percentage
(47%) also reported that they telecommute informally, with no set schedule.
• Informal Flexibility: 90% of respondents reported they had flexibility to attend
campus events during regular work hours and 97% reported they had flexibility to
address life events.
• Comfort Levels: 84% of staff reported they were comfortable discussing flexible work
arrangements with their immediate supervisor.
• Benefit: Staff reported that the greatest benefit of working flexibly is having the
ability to manage work and personal time more effectively. Supervisors reported the
greatest benefit is staff having greater job satisfaction.
While the data show that much progress has been made, other survey findings point out opportunities for improvement. Key areas for improvement include increased, visible leadership and management support for flexibility when possible, additional training for supervisors in managing a flexible workforce, and increased access to and use of technology for better productivity while working flexibly.
The 2015 Campus-Wide All Staff Workplace Flexibility Survey indicates that the university is becoming a more flexible place to work. Overall, more staff are working a variety of flexible work arrangements and we are seeing a healthy combination of both formal and informal use of flexibility. Staff and their supervisors recognize challenges exist in a flexible work environment, but they are increasingly becoming more knowledgeable and comfortable with how to make it work. In addition, staff and supervisors see the value of flexibility and how it enables greater work-life effectiveness as well as higher engagement and productivity.
The Emory WorkLife Resource Center continues to educate the community about how flexibility can help improve employee attraction and retention and can enable employees to manage their work and personal responsibilities more easily. In addition, the EWLRC plans to work with other units where collaboration can benefit Emory, such as sustainability.
Below are some resources to help schools and departments with workplace flexibility at Emory:
• Consultation. The Emory WorkLife Resource Center is available to consult with
divisions, departments, HR reps, supervisors and staff who are interested in
learning more about how to create more formal work flexibility and the type of
culture that supports this.
• Information Sessions. The center offers a series of Flex Information Sessions for
Managers and HR Reps throughout the year. New dates to be announced soon.
• Training. Training is available through the Emory WorkLife Resource Center to help
units on campus understand how to be successful at working and managing flexible
• Web Resources. Learn more about flexible work arrangements at The Emory WorkLife
To learn more about workplace flexibility or to schedule a consultation, contact the Emory WorkLife Resource Center at (404) 727-8000.