We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Workplace Flexibility

Realigning 20th-Century Jobs for a 21st-Century Workforce

Kathleen Christensen, Barbara Schneider

Publication Year: 2010

Although today's family has changed, the workplace has not-and the resulting one-size-fits-all workplace has become profoundly mismatched to the needs of an increasingly diverse and varied workforce. As changes in the composition of the workforce exert new demands on employers, considerable attention is being paid to how workplaces can be structured more flexibly to achieve the goals of employers and employees.

Workplace Flexibility brings together sixteen essays authored by leading experts in economics, demography, political science, law, sociology, anthropology, and management. Collectively, they make the case for workplace flexibility, as well as examine existing business practices and public policy regarding flexibility in the United States, Europe, Australia, and Japan. Workplace Flexibility underscores the need to realign the structure of work in time and place with the needs of the changing workforce.

Considering the positive and negative consequences for employer and employee alike, the authors argue that, although there is not an easy solution to creating and implementing flexibility practices-in the United States or abroad-redesigning the workplace is essential if today's workers are effectively to meet the demands of life and work and if employers are successfully able to attract and retain top talent and improve performance.

Published by: Cornell University Press

Title Page, Copyright

pdf iconDownload PDF (10.9 KB)


pdf iconDownload PDF (11.8 KB)
pp. v-vi

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (15.5 KB)
pp. vii-x

The rise of dual-earner households, as well as single-parent, single-earner house-holds and older couples facing joint retirements, has significantly changed the relationship between work and family life in the U.S. and other nation states. No longer dominant is the family in which one parent goes out to work and one stays home. Yet even in the early 1990s, these demographic changes eluded the attention of scholars and public policymakers...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (9.6 KB)
pp. xi-xiv

The idea for this book was generated by a conference held at the University of Chicago in 2006 on “Workplace Flexibility in a Global Context” that was funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Many of the authors in this book made presentations at this meeting and it was their insights and critiques that underscored the fundamental issue of the mismatch between twenty-first century workers and their twentieth-century jobs...

read more

Introduction: Evidence of the Worker and Workplace Mismatch

Kathleen Christensen, Barbara Schneider

pdf iconDownload PDF (53.0 KB)
pp. 1-14

The American way of life has undergone profound changes over the last thirty years. More changes are likely, given the current Great Recession that is likely to be deep and long. This book was written before the onset of this current economic crisis and its potential effects on working families and workplace flexibility are unknown, as we have yet to experience a crisis of this magnitude in contemporary times...

Part 1. Twenty-First-Century Workers and Family Life

read more

1. The Long Reach of the Job: Employment and Time for Family Life

Suzanne M. Bianchi, Vanessa R. Wight

pdf iconDownload PDF (125.8 KB)
pp. 17-42

There is considerable debate over the amount of time that Americans spend working. Some argue that paid work hours have increased (Schor 1991), while others find that the amount of time Americans devote to market work has actually declined (Robinson and Godbey 1999). For those in their prime working years, ages twenty-five to fifty-four, with a college degree or employed in professional and managerial occupations, work hours have increased (Coleman and Pencavel 1993a, 1993b; Rones, Ilg, and Gardner 1997)...

read more

2. Multitasking Among Working Families: A Strategy for Dealing with the Time Squeeze

Shira Offer, Barbara Schneider

pdf iconDownload PDF (141.8 KB)
pp. 43-56

Multitasking, or doing more than one activity at a given moment, has become a way of life for most U.S. working families. Considering the complexity of contemporary everyday life, it often seems that there is no other way to get things done but to do many things at once. Among working parents, for whom time is a particularly scarce resource, multitasking has become a strategy for juggling the growing demands of work and family...

read more

3. Coming Together at Dinner: A Study of Working Families

Elinor Ochs, Merav Shohet, Belinda Campos, Margaret Beck

pdf iconDownload PDF (80.7 KB)
pp. 57-70

Family mealtimes have received considerable attention in the popular media as a barometer of family well-being. Dinnertime, they report, is an endangered or defunct family ritual that has given way to the demands of parents' work and children's extracurricular activities (RMC Research Corporation 2005). In the United States, as in other societies, the family dinner is viewed as an icon of the family and an ideal toward which contemporary families should strive...

Part 2. The Misfit between Old Workplaces and a New Workforce

read more

4. Customizing Careers by Opting Out or Shifting Jobs: Dual-Earners Seeking Life-Course "Fit"

Phyllis Moen, Qinlei Huang

pdf iconDownload PDF (147.9 KB)
pp. 73-94

Two-career couples are nothing new in American society, but dual-earning has by no means been institutionalized within families or the workforce. Dual-earners reflect a new workforce demography, an increasing percentage of households in which all adults are in the workforce. Still, most working couples struggle under both government laws and regulations and private-sector policies and practices that adhere to the stereotypical (male) lockstep adult course...

read more

5. Keeping Engaged Parents on the Road to Success

Sylvia Ann Hewlett

pdf iconDownload PDF (59.1 KB)
pp. 95-109

Ilona Steffen-Cope had been working as a consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton in Germany when, after a short time there, she was transferred to New York. Two years later, she transferred to San Francisco. That was the easy part. After another two years, Steffen-Cope began commuting to San Francisco from Vancouver, an arrangement prompted by the demands of her partner's career...

read more

6. Elderly Labor Supply: Work or Play?

Steven J. Haider, David S. Loughran

pdf iconDownload PDF (118.1 KB)
pp. 110-128

The aging of the U.S. population, concerns over the long-term solvency of Social Security and Medicare, and recent data have sparked much research on the labor supply of older individuals. The bulk of this research has focused on individuals approaching traditional retirement ages of fifty-five to sixty-four. However, much less research has considered the labor supply of individuals beyond this age, a population referred to here as the “elderly”...

Part 3. Workplace Flexibility: Voluntary Employer Practices in the United States

read more

7. Employer-Provided Workplace Flexibility

Ellen Galinsky, Kelly Sakai, Sheila Eby, James T. Bond, Tyler Wigton

pdf iconDownload PDF (91.7 KB)
pp. 131-156

In the 1970s, Columbia University scholars Sheila B. Kamerman and Alfred J. Kahn (1978) launched studies documenting family-responsive trends around the globe. They found that, in contrast to almost every other industrialized country, "the United States does not have an explicit national family policy" (428). This statement remains true today (Heymann 2006a)...

read more

8. Will the Real Family-Friendly Employer Please Stand Up: Who Permits Work Hour Reductions for Childcare?

Robert Hutchens, Patrick Nolen

pdf iconDownload PDF (72.9 KB)
pp. 157-177

The problem of balancing work and family life is particularly onerous when an employee wants to work fewer hours to deal with a family crisis. This is probably easiest for an acute crisis for which a couple of days off are required. More complicated are long-term problems, such as a sick or injured child who requires several months of care. This chapter examines how employers react to an especially difficult family-work issue: an employee who wants to move from full-time to part-time in order to care for a young child...

read more

9. Workplace Flexibility for Federal Civilian Employees

Kathleen Christensen, Mathew Weinshenker, Blake Sisk

pdf iconDownload PDF (66.9 KB)
pp. 178-195

When considering the relationship between the federal government and workplace flexibility, the typical approach is to focus on the government in its policymaking role, rather than on its role as employer. This is an oversight that needs to be rectified. Focusing only on its capacity to pass laws or issue regulations ignores another critical way in which the federal government influences the adoption and implementation of workplace flexibility in the United States, and that is through its role as employer...

read more

10. The Odd Disconnect: Our Family-Hostile Public Policy

Joan C. Williams

pdf iconDownload PDF (91.7 KB)
pp. 196-220

Imagine two families, one in the United States and one in Sweden, both of which experience the birth of a child.1 In the first family, a working couple in Sweden has a newborn son in January. Both parents stay home during the first two weeks of the child's life, because, since the 1970s, fathers have been granted ten days of paid leave after childbirth (Crittenden 2001)...

Part 4. Workplace Flexibility: Practices from Abroad

read more

11. Limiting Working Time and Supporting Flexibility for Employees: Public Policy Lessons from Europe

Janet C. Gornick

pdf iconDownload PDF (144.9 KB)
pp. 223-244

Two facts vividly capture the situation of American employees compared to their counterparts in a number of other Western countries. The first fact is that American employees, on average, spend many more hours per year at their workplaces (see figure 11.1). In 2002, workers in the United States—men and women combined—averaged over 1,800 hours per year spent in paid work, compared to...

read more

12. Parents' Experiences of Flexible Work Arrangements in Changing European Workplaces

Suzan Lewis, Laura den Dulk

pdf iconDownload PDF (62.6 KB)
pp. 245-261

It is widely acknowledged that parents need flexibility to manage work and family boundaries. However, the impact of flexible working arrangements on employees with family responsibilities depends on many layers of context. Nevertheless, much of the research on flexible work arrangements either focuses on organizational policies and support and relatively neglects wider societal and economic context...

read more

13. Work Hours Mismatch in the United States and Australia

Robert Drago, Mark Wooden

pdf iconDownload PDF (54.6 KB)
pp. 262-275

Many academics and practitioners are urging employers to provide workplace options that allow their employees to reduce the number of hours they are required to work. For example, Hewlett and Luce's (2005) study of highly educated women concludes that businesses need to create reduced-hours positions for women, and particularly new mothers, if they are to retain their positions as valued employees...

read more

14. Renewed Energy for Change: Government Policies Supporting Workplace Flexibility in Australia

Juliet Bourke

pdf iconDownload PDF (99.4 KB)
pp. 276-302

Workplace flexibility is receiving a great deal of attention in Australia, particularly from Labor federal government elected in late 2007, but also from members of the previous conservative federal government, business representatives, and nongovernmental organizations. At first glance, such attention may seem positive, but this assumes that the term "workplace flexibility" has a uniform meaning for each of those stakeholder groups...

read more

15. Flexible Employment and the Introduction of Work-life Balance Programs in Japan

Machiko Osawa

pdf iconDownload PDF (51.3 KB)
pp. 303-316

Japan is at a crossroads. The post–World War II economic model, known as "Japan, Inc.," has been largely discredited, and is no longer seen as viable in the twenty-first century without substantial modification. Even as the underpinnings of Japan, Inc. are gradually abandoned, there is no consensus on cobbling together a new paradigm...

read more

16. Government Policies Supporting Workplace Flexibility: The State of Play in Japan

Sumiko Iwao

pdf iconDownload PDF (123.9 KB)
pp. 317-336

When the Japanese refer to workplace flexibility, they can choose between many different expressions. The terms "workplace flexibility" and "flexible working," which are considered subsets of the broader topic of "work-family compatibility," are occasionally used by Japanese policymakers, but the public is less familiar with them. "Workplace flexibility" primarily refers to the practice of providing leave time for childcare and eldercare...

read more

Conclusions: Solving the Workplace/Workforce Mismatch

Kathleen Christensen, Barbara Schneider

pdf iconDownload PDF (49.7 KB)
pp. 337-350

Most U.S. workers are employed in rigidly structured work environments where they have to make difficult and, oftentimes, undesirable choices between meeting the demands of work and the needs of their families. Being expected to work long hours, with minimal control over when and where to work and few opportunities for any type of leave from work, results in a situation in which workers often and unwillingly, privilege work over family...


pdf iconDownload PDF (60.5 KB)
pp. 351-364


pdf iconDownload PDF (144.9 KB)
pp. 365-392


pdf iconDownload PDF (32.7 KB)
pp. 393-398


pdf iconDownload PDF (51.2 KB)
pp. 399-409

E-ISBN-13: 9780801458446
Print-ISBN-13: 9780801448607

Page Count: 424
Publication Year: 2010

Edition: 1