Flexibility Re-Defined: Knowing your options when it comes to flexible work

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© Creativa - Fotolia.com
© Creativa – Fotolia.com

In my work and daily interactions with candidates through Mom Corps, I so often see professionals confused on what a flexible job really is, or can be. Some think flexibility means working exclusively from home. Others think it means working only half-days. And still others think it means working less. All three of those situations unattainable, or unrealistic for many working women. My response to these professionals–flexibility can be just about any situation you want to make for yourself, your family and your lifestyle.

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To illustrate the possibilities, consider these parameters as you work to define your dream flexible situation, in terms of time, place, and duration.

Time
One common misconception is that a flexible job is a part-time job. However, flexible can also refer to the flexing of the work schedule. This could mean full-time with modified hours starting and ending at non-traditional times. For example, starting work at 7 a.m. to end at 3 p.m. in time to pick-up the kids from school. Or perhaps starting at 10 a.m. twice a week because you wish to attend a morning yoga class. Modified workweek means anything that differs from a traditional schedule.

Place
Where and how work is performed can also cause a job to be classified as flexible. Some variations of place include telecommuting some days, as many organizations now allow employees to work from home on occasion, while others make telecommuting part of the normal culture and structure. For some candidates, a flexible job in their field would mean that they simply wouldn’t be required to travel for business all the time (for those who’ve spent most of their time on the road). For others, a shorter commute would make a job more flexible – regaining hours of their day due to the proximity of the job to their home.

Duration
The jobs we source through Mom Corps vary from permanent (with no anticipated end date), temporary (contract, with an end date in mind), project-based (working until the project is considered complete by the employer), or seasonal. One example of a flexible job based on duration is the accountant who wishes to work only during tax season (perhaps working full time or more), and then having the rest of the year off. Or the professional who prefers to work from project to project, contract to contract with no permanent commitment.

Measuring against the criteria of time, place and duration, what flexible work situations can your dream up? Does flexibility seem more attainable when you think of it this way? Would you feel comfortable approaching your boss about working in an alternative way? Why or why not?

Allison O'Kelly is founder and CEO of the national talent acquisition and career development firm, Mom Corps. Visit www.MomCorps.com for more information, or follow her on Twitter @AllisonOKelly

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