Formal Flexibility

Formal flexibility takes many forms

Although informal flexibility exists in many Jewish organizations, often varying from department to department, research shows that formal flexibility is a smarter approach.  A standard policy across the organization broadens access and strengthens accountability for performance.

Formal flexibility takes many forms:

Flextime allows employees to vary start and end times of the workday. Organizations may designate core hours when everyone is present.

Telecommuting allows employees to work from home or a satellite location for one or more days per week. For employees working at home, this requires an equipped office and scheduled childcare. Organizations may designate core days or hours when everyone is in the office.

Part-time Work might be the same weekly schedule over time or temporary modified schedules, as required by personal needs or work demands.

Compressed Workweeks allow full-time employees to shift from a traditional weekly schedule to more hours over fewer days.

Job Sharing allows two employees to divide one job, with each person working half-time. Full-time salary and benefits are allocated on a pro-rated basis.


Formal flexibility benefits everyone

Flexible scheduling is not only for parents with young children. Caregiving stretches across the lifecycle, from infants to young children and teenagers, and from spouses and partners to elderly parents. We believe that formal flexibility also should be extended to other personal needs and aspirations, from volunteering to pursuing graduate degrees.

When we invite senior executives and department managers to consider formal flexibility, often the first response is skepticism or fear of losing control. “How will I know if my staff members are working? How will I monitor progress?” In fact, formal flexibility leads to greater transparency between staff and management and increased productivity.  The AWP report, Better Work, Better Life, provides evidence for making this case.

Start the conversation and launch an experiment

  • Frame flexibility as an option, not a right. Focus on organizational strategy and employee goals.
  • Review work structures to translate time commitments into task commitments.
  • Create norms for online and offline communication that keep people connected, but not tethered.
  • Formalize policies in the personnel manual, to derive the full benefit in organizational productivity and employee satisfaction.
  • Train managers to provide effective support and supervision.


If I had not had the flexibility of working from home, I probably would have spent my 30’s working part-time. I would have put my family first and my career, and thus my opportunity to serve the Jewish people, second. I would have been too overwhelmed with the juggle to seize opportunities to challenge myself, demonstrate leadership, and take on more responsibility.

– Deena Fuchs, Director of Strategic Partnerships of AVI CHAI Foundation