Photo by Amy Verbofsky

Alternative Work Schedules

Flextime

Research has shown employees are more likely to consider shared commutes when a flexible work schedule is instituted. Flextime allows employees to alter their arrival and departure times slightly to better accommodate commute schedules. For example, although official office hours may be 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., employees may be allowed to arrive between 7:30 to 9 a.m. and leave between 4 and 5:30 p.m. That doesn't mean employees get to set their own hours! In most cases employees cannot flex their schedule on a daily basis, but must make a long-term commitment to a regular schedule. Some companies do allow daily flexibility as long as regular hours are achieved.

The ultimate goal of a flextime policy is to allow employees to arrange a commute schedule convenient to transit schedules or to accommodate vanpool and carpool options. Flextime can be employed in a variety of ways:

  • The employer may permit employees to pick one of three schedules starting and ending an hour or half hour apart, staggering arrival times, but requiring all employees to be present during specified core hours of the day
  • Employees may be able to modify slightly the established hours of operations through a formal pre-determined schedule on a permanent basis, or on an informal, variable basis.
  • Employees may be allowed a general, non-monitored 15- to 30-minute window of arrival time, provided they allow for the changes at the end of the day.

The type of program selected will have a lot to do with the size of your company or worksite and the general corporate atmosphere of your workplace. Note: flextime or "staggered hours" work best when companies coordinate efforts through their local MAP contact to optimize start/stop times, spreading out peak hour travel in a given employment center.

Alternative scheduling allows employees to feel they are supported in their attempts to share the ride to work, not worried that they'll be reprimanded for arriving late or leaving early.

Compressed Work Week

Compressed work weeks help reduce the number of single occupancy vehicles (SOVs) arriving to the worksite during the week in a way different from flextime. This option allows employees not affected by collective bargaining to condense the hours they work into fewer days, thus increasing the length of the work day, but decreasing the number of days spent at the work site.

The most common condensed work week combinations are:

  • 4/40 -- 4 days/10 hours per day
  • 3/36 -- 3 days/12 hours per day
  • 9/80 -- 9 nine-hour days in a two-week, 40-hour period (work 5, off 2, work 4, off 3)

Employers can choose to either close their offices on the day(s) off, or keep offices open every day but have fewer people arriving each day. This option can be implemented year-round, or seasonally (great for summer). The days employees work are usually selected ahead of time, and don't change, although in rare instances, employees choose their days on a per week basis. Time accounting systems must be analyzed to accommodate this type of program.

Vehicle travel is reduced in one of two ways: either there are no vehicles arriving on the day(s) the office is not operating, or there are fewer vehicles overall arriving on a daily basis. When this option is implemented on a staggered schedule, employers need fewer parking spaces overall and, when initiated on a fixed schedule (all employees work the same days), employers often see lower utility bills; both work to improve employee attendance. Employees also appreciate longer weekends and adjusted vacation schedules.

Stacy BartelsManager, Office of Strategic TDM and Marketing
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