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Flexibility is newest trend among workers, employers

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January 7, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
In this uncertain economy, three things are clear when it comes to jobs: how long we're working is changing, where we're working is changing and flexibility is the new norm.

Recent statistics show 77 percent of employers now offer flex time. That's way up from 66 percent just a few years ago.

Kim Ziprick has a flexible arrangement. She chooses to work long hours a few nights a week in exchange for a half day off every other Friday.

"I love it. Never had a company that offered this type of benefit and it's been one that's been very helpful for me," she said. "I have something to look forward to every two weeks."

Other flex options are becoming more popular, too, like flex place. Choosing where you work is now an option for 63 percent of employees. That's almost twice the amount from a few years ago. Employers see these options as win-wins.

"Anything we can do to help them get their work done and try to keep work-life balance is what we're interested in doing," said Barbara Bell-Dees, a human resources manager.

Another change in the workplace is the rise of the hybrid job.

"Instead of hiring someone for one specific skill set, they're trying to integrate someone who has multiple skill sets so they can reduce their cost of hire," said Adrienne Graham, the CEO of Empower Me Corporation, which offers business growth strategies.

James Snider fills a hybrid position at his current job. He handles marketing, sales and production. But after being unemployed for a year and a half, he was thrilled to be working again. He started the job as an unpaid intern.

"For somebody who's been out of work for an extended period of time, particularly the older job seeker, this is going to be something more and more of us need to do to get back into the game," Snider said.

Phased out retirement is something else that's shifting in the workplace. Employees don't just clock out one last time when they hit a magic age.

"Preparing by gradually pulling back your hours is a good way for retirees to get a taste of the retirement life without jumping full-head into it and gives the company time to plan and strategize to fill the void for when they're leaving," Graham said.

Retirement is far from Ziprick's mind these days. She loves her flex time arrangement and so does her boss.

"In the end it pays off greatly," Ziprick said.

Another post-retirement trend is for retirees to go back to their old jobs as contract workers or consultants. The downside is the pay can temporarily reduce their Social Security benefits because they're earning income.


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