The University Record, June 11, 1996

U-M units share ups and downs of flexible work scheduling

Workshop participants listened closely as representatives from University units share their experiences with flexible scheduling.


By Rachel Neva
News and Information Services

As part of the Workplace of the '90s conference, Leslie de Pietro, Fran Shadley and Julie Peterson focused on further understanding flexible work scheduling.

Their workshop, "Exploring Flexible Work Schedules: Creating a Win-Win for Staff and Supervisors," covered the benefits and obstacles offices may face in implementing strategies for a flex-friendly work atmosphere. The workshop team also shared success stories of University offices currently testing the flexible scheduling waters and gave suggestions for negotiating for flextime within other work environments.

De Pietro, moderator of the workshop and coordinator of the U-M Family Care Resources Program, defined and discussed the possibilities involved in flex scheduling, which gives employees more freedom. Flextime, flexplace (telecommuting) and job sharing are helpful approaches in solving scheduling conflicts that may arise due to family or personal obligations.

Shadley, a member of the Business School's Flexteam, outlined the team's efforts over the past two years researching and implementing a plan for alternative scheduling within the School. Through their research, a three-month pilot plan involving two units in the School and a year-long pilot involving the entire School, feelings have been positive.

As the year-long pilot nears completion, Shadley feels it has been successful. Since the Business School is such a big organization within the University, they've been cautious and have taken the time to explore issues before taking swift action, so that others can benefit from their experience when creating their own model for alternative scheduling.

Sharing the information gathered during the two years of pilots and research is important, she said. Starter kits and the team's reports are available on the WorldWide Web at http://www-personal.umich.edu/~nickh/flexteam/_main.html.

Peterson, director of News and Information Services, shared her office's experience in developing a plan for flexible scheduling. Her main concern as office supervisor was one of "fairness and equity." The entire staff participated in discussions before working flexible scheduling into the office routine. Concerns were voiced and dealt with, so that all felt they were involved in the decision making process. These discussions helped anticipate and solve potential problems.

Peterson says staff in her office communicate more openly about scheduling and assignments now that they take into consideration each other's alternate scheduling.

Using information such as that found by the Business School's Flexteam may be helpful in negotiating an alternative schedule with a supervisor. Being able to point out benefits to the office will help show that co-workers have been taken into consideration in creating your alternate schedule.

If the negotiation is done in a one-on-one setting, having a flextime proposal in writing may be advantageous. Listing current responsibilities and how they will be handled in the alternate schedule will help allay concerns a supervisor may have about the same amount and quality of work getting done.

De Pietro is available for consultation regarding negotiations and setting departmental policy for alternate scheduling options. She can be reached by calling 998-7476 or sending e-mail to ldpietro@umich.edu.