Flexible Working Arrangements

The revised policy (ST/SGB/2019/3)on Flexible Working Arrangements (FWA) provides additional flexible working options and encourages staff and managers to view FWA favourably. The policy provides six elements of FWA: staggered working hours; compressed working schedule of 10 days in 9; compressed schedule of 5 days in 4.5; scheduled break for external learning activities up to 6 hours a week; telecommuting within the duty station for 3 days normally; the possible telecommuting from outside the duty station for a limited period up to 6 months normally where there are compelling reasons.

While those changes are certainly welcomed, FWA faces challenges in the field. First, the possible resistance to allow staff to make use of those arrangements driven by a “field standby” culture even when the nature of the function does allow for FWA. Second, except for the option of telecommuting from outside the duty station, other provisions do not bear any benefit for all non-family and other deep field duty stations where staff live and work in the same place and life exists far outside the duty station. Five out of six provisions would be usable in such environments. On the other hand, the policy does not allow for accumulating freed time outside the period in which it is provided (the half day in the 5 in 4.5, the one day in the 10 in 9, the 6 hours per week for external studies must be compensated for within the same interval). Due to the remoteness of “personal” life, this would neither make the application feasible within said intervals, nor allow the accumulated time to be carried over until the staff member can travel out of the duty station.

We shall therefore propose the following:

  • When an option is agreed to by the staff member and the manager, allow for the accumulation, over a certain maximum period, of the freed time under the option to be used in conjunction with any absence from work outside the duty station, such on rest and recuperation, annual leave, family visit or home leave. The period over which the freed time can be accumulated may be in synch with the rest and recuperation cycle for example;
  • Put in place complementary mechanisms to ensure that FWA would not be abused nor denied as one of the forms of abuse of authority;
  • Develop a clear guideline detailing the rules of procedure by which the FWA may be approved or disapproved, and those by which recourse may be sought in case the denial is contested by the staff member.

For more information on Work/Life Balance, please click here.