Alternative work hours

The alternative work hours strategy is an arrangement where employees and employers agree to a non-traditional or non-peak work schedule.

Key characteristics

Other names

  • Flextime
  • Staggered shifts
  • Compressed workweek
  • Alternative work schedule
  • Variable work hours

Strategy description

Employers who use the alternative work hours strategy offer their workers options to:

  • Use a work schedule that shifts their arrival and/or departure out of peak traffic hours
  • Stagger their arrival or departure on an as-needed basis (i.e., increase flexibility)
  • Compress their workweek (e.g. four, 10-hour days; working 80 hours in nine days)

The alternative work hours strategy shifts traffic from peak hours, improves employee commutes and supports employee retention and job satisfaction. Employers often promote this strategy as an employee benefit or incentive. The strategy has been around for decades, but is gaining popularity with the increase of urban sprawl. 

When to use this strategy

The alternative work hours strategy may be a good fit in:

  • Urban and suburban areas that need improved mobility and economic growth despite congestion
  • Areas with employment sectors that offer the types of jobs that allow for flexible arrival or departure times
  • Areas where you want to reduce  emissions, pollution and energy use
  • Areas with a competitive job market where employee retention and satisfaction is important

What you need in order to implement

The availability and use of alternative work hours in an employment center can be increased through employer outreach and technical assistance. Local partners like a transportation management association or commute trip reduction implementer can help:

  • Increase employer awareness of alternative work hours strategies and incentive the use of these strategies
  • Help employers develop and implement alternative work hours policies and best practices
  • Provide training, support, and resources to employees
  • Measure and report performance

About key characteristics

Location notes:

The alternative work hours strategy is most common in urbanized areas that experience congestion during peak times. However, employers may use the strategy universally, regardless of home/work location.

Cost notes:

The alternative work hours strategy is a low-cost, high benefit method to reduce traffic volumes during peak times. Costs are minimal and in some cases may only require staff time dedicated to communication and collaboration about their alternative work hours schedules.

Technology notes:

Depending on the type of industry and job functions, technology requirements may be low.

Collaboration notes:

Some areas of the state lack local transportation demand management service providers or lack providers with experience promoting alternative work schedules. Industry peers are available to assist.

Need or issue this strategy addresses