In Support of Flexible Work Options

Dear University Colleagues:

We want to take this opportunity to publicly endorse the use of flexible work options at Penn. We believe flexible work options support our mission as a premier educational and research institution and enable us to sustain Penn's position as an employer of choice. Staff face increasing demands in their personal and work lives. We would like to enhance existing work practices at Penn to further ease this challenge, support career development, community service, and family activities. We believe that formally introducing flexible work options to our campus is one way to meet these goals. There are significant organizational benefits to be derived from these programs as well. Research has shown that flexible work options can improve staff morale, increase commitment and productivity, reduce absenteeism and turnover, enhance customer satisfaction, and improve competitiveness for job candidates.

Flexible work options are commonplace at Penn, through informal arrangements. However, there are individuals on our campus who would like flexible work arrangements and managers who would like to offer these arrangements but are unsure of the best way to do so. Therefore, we asked the Division of Human Resources to form a task force to consult with individuals from across our campus. We requested that they research the best designs for flexible work options in an academic and research setting with a focus on approaches that are cost-effective, allow for accountability, and encourage customer satisfaction.

The following information is the outcome of a collaborative effort between the task force and other leaders in our community. It incorporates information gained from corporate and academic organizations with flexible work option programs, from focus group discussions with nearly 70 individuals from diverse work situations at Penn, and from consultation with other interested parties on campus. This information is being offered as guidelines rather than as policy because the University is a complex organization and no single approach would apply. Instead, these guidelines provide a format for identifying opportunities for flexible work arrangements at Penn in consideration of organizational needs and individual capabilities.

We support the formal introduction of flexible work options at Penn and encourage their use, where practical and feasible.

--Judith Rodin, President

--Robert Barchi, Provost Designate

--John Fry, Executive Vice President

Almanac, Vol. 45, No. 16, January 12, 1999