Integrating Flexible Work Arrangements and Work

Activity Description:


To understand the challenges of implementing flexible work arrangements policies in organizations and to offer innovative solutions to achieving greater balance between work and family demands.


1. Read Bailyn, L., & Fletcher, J. K. (1997). Unexpected connections: Considering employees’ personal lives can revitalize your business. Sloan Management Review, 38, 11-19 and have students answer the following questions:

  • Do you believe most employers care about balancing work and other life activities? Why or why not?
  • Should employers care? Why or why not?
  • According to the article, what is the major barrier to balancing work and other life activities within an organization?
  • What factors explain the different experiences of the groups described in this article?
  • Discuss the barriers to changing an organizational culture to one that embraces and effectively utilizes flexible work arrangements.
  • Discuss each of the steps presented by the authors to capturing the benefits of a connection between work and life. How would you go about implementing these steps in an organization? How would you know if the organization is ready to take such a step?
  • How do you define success in the implementation of flexible work arrangements within an organization? Why or why not?
  • Can flexible work arrangements be successfully adopted without consideration of the issues discussed in this article?

2. Form students into groups of 3-4.

3. Have each group identify an organization that they can work with to analyze the feasibility of various flexible work arrangements for a particular group of employees (or for the organization as a whole if it is a small organization). The organization can be one that already has flexible work arrangements or that is considering adopting such arrangements.

4. Have students conduct interviews or surveys to identify work practices that have unintended negative consequences for both the employees’ personal lives and for the organization’s goals by interviewing employees to discover the impact their work has on their personal lives.

5. Have students then identify workplace constraints that interfere with life balance and create stress within the workplace.

6. Examining these work/life and workplace issues, students should then identify workplace practices that could be changed to pave the way for flexible work arrangements suitable to the environment.

7. Finally, students should consider which flexible work arrangements might be useful and make recommendations for how they would be structured and how they might be successfully implemented.

8. A final report could be submitted to the instructor or students could present their research and findings to the class (and/or organization).

NOTE: Instructors looking for a shorter in-class exercise could limit this activity to step 1 only.

Activity Source:

Content contributed by Barbara L. Rau as a Suggested Work and Family Class Activity