Focus on Workplace Flexibility

Family, Business, Government

About Workplace Flexibility


On November 29th and 30th, 2010, academic researchers, business and labor leaders, and government and military officials gathered in Washington, DC for a conference titled Focus on Workplace Flexibility. Building on the momentum generated by the March 2010 White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility, this national conference looked more closely at the demographic and economic changes that are transforming work and family, as well as effective business practices and practical public policy solutions to support workplace flexibility.

“Research has proven that the widespread adoption of workplace flexibility practices will be crucial to the continued strength of American families and businesses now and in the future,” said Kathleen Christensen, Program Director, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “There is growing consensus that workplace flexibility – in its many forms – can improve lives, support business objectives and strengthen the economy.”

The goal of Focus on Workplace Flexibility was to strengthen existing partnerships; accelerate the process of making flexibility a standard of the American workplace; and highlight the pioneering contributions of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s program on Workplace, Work Force and Working Families.



Formal flexibility policies are “officially approved human resources policies, as well as any official policies that give supervisors discretion to provide flexibility.”

Informal flexibility refers to “policies that are not official and not written down but are still available to some employees, even on a discretionary basis.”

While most formal work arrangements can usually be identified, organizations acknowledge that utilization statistics probably underestimate the true reach and impact of flexibility, as they cannot accurately determine the extent of informal flexibility—for example, employees who occasionally alter their work hours or work from home. (24)