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Workplace Flexibility Is Not Just a Reasonable Accommodation

When the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued its final regulations for the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, its guidance listed several examples of flexible workplace policies that an employer could consider when choosing a reasonable accommodation that enables an employee with a disability to be maximally productive. EEOC cites telework, job reassignment, flexible start and end times and working from home.

The US Business Leadership Network® (USBLN®) is a national non-profit that helps business drive performance by leveraging disability inclusion in the workplace, supply chain and marketplace. USBLN® member companies are on a journey to achieve the gold standard for disability inclusion.  Many leading USBLN® companies have developed a culture of workplace flexibility for all their employees. These employers recognize that professional and personal lives intersect. Retaining high-value employees requires providing the opportunity to work more flexibly.

Developing a flexible workplace requires a culture change. This change takes leadership from the top of the organization and building trust between managers and their team members. In a flexible workplace, employees’ needs are considered regarding how, when and where they work. This practice includes, wherever feasible, work hours and location. It also embraces part-time work, reduced hours and personal leave.

Workplace flexibility is also a concept highlighted in Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. Lean In has not only spawned numerous television and radio interviews, TED talks and “lean in” as a new term in our lexicon, but also a global online community dedicated to helping women and all people believe in themselves and reach for their ambitions. Today’s workforce and the workforce of the future include not only women but also men who share parental responsibilities, caregivers for aging parents, mature workers, millennials and people with disabilities. For these diverse groups to “lean in” to their careers and remain high performers, smart employers know that they must “lean in” and create a culture of workplace flexibility. When this happens everyone wins.

 

Jill Houghton is Executive Director of the US Business Leadership Network® (USBLN®), a national non-profit that helps business drive performance by leveraging disability inclusion in the workplace, supply chain and marketplace. The USBLN®, a partner of the LEAD Center, serves as the collective voice for more than 50 Business leadership Network affiliates across the United States, representing more than 5,000 businesses.

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