Content prepared by the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College

Most U.S. workers are employed in traditional work environments structured around the "full-time, full-year" model. According to this model workers are expected to work a defined number of hours, with minimal control over when and where to work and few opportunities for time off. (23)

However, the composition of the workforce has evolved:

"In 1968, 48% of children were raised in households where the father worked full-time, the mother was not in the labor force, and the parents were married; by 2008, only 20% of children lived in such household. At the same time, people born around 1940 have a life expectancy over 10 years longer than those of the previous generation (born in 1910), producing added responsibilities for the care of older family members as well." (26)

In addition to these workforce demographic changes, there have been changes in the types of the skills employers demand in the modern American workplace. American workers are, in response, increasingly returning to post-secondary schools even after they are past the traditional school age. (26)

Workplace flexibility is a response to these changes in the American workplace. Current trends indicate a new, more flexible model of employment which benefits both employers and employees. Employees with access to flexible work options can respond productively to the demands of work, education and family. Trends in the private industry sectors and the public sector will be discussed, as well as the impact of the current economic recession on workplace flexibility.