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The Flexible Approach to an Inclusive Workplace

Today's employers are learning that they don’t always need to do things the old fashioned way. To stay competitive as the economy rebounds and to maximize worker performance, companies need to think outside the box and respond to the diverse needs of individual employees. One effective strategy for doing so is workplace flexibility — a practice that breeds employee loyalty and enables many workers to perform to their fullest potential.

The concept of workplace flexibility can be as important to a new parent who wants to work part time as it is to a person with a disability who needs to telecommute. Whatever the case, research shows that strategies like telework and flextime contribute greatly to a more inclusive workplace and dramatically enhance the employability of all workers.

While workplace flexibility is often associated with when and where employees work, it also covers flexibility of task. That can mean redefining the job description of an individual who has a disability to better fit tasks that he or she can perform. Such practices can help employers optimize productivity and avoid the considerable costs associated with replacing an established employee who wants to stay on the job.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) offers a suite of tools and resources to help employers unlock the potential of workplace flexibility strategies. The latest addition is a fact sheet called Workplace Flexibility: A Strategic Business Approach for an Inclusive Workplace. In addition to outlining the proven benefits of workplace flexibility, it offers tips for getting started and resources that can help, including ODEP's comprehensive Workplace Flexibility Toolkit. Together, these strategies all make a compelling case for flexibility as yet another business practice that makes good business sense.

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