Results of Mason Flex Census Announced

Posted: July 18, 2011 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: July 15, 2011 at 7:11 pm

By Janet Walker, work/life and communications coordinator, Human Resources and Payroll

The Quality of Work Life (QWL) Task Force conducted a Flex Census earlier this year to solicit input and suggestions from faculty and staff members on flexible work and alternate transportations options at Mason. More than 1,000 faculty and staff members participated in the census.

“We received valuable information from the Flex Census,” says Sandra Scherrens, vice president of University Life and co-chair of the QWL Task Force. “It will help the task force considerably as we plan future initiatives at Mason.”

Flexible Work Options

Of those who participated in the census, about 55 percent reported that they utilize some form of flexible work at Mason (e.g., telework, flextime, compressed schedule, remote work, job share). Telework was cited as the most utilized form of flexible work, followed by flex time and compressed scheduling.

Of those individuals who reported that they do not use flexible work options, nearly 49 percent indicated it was because their job isn’t suited to it. Some felt that their supervisor or department didn’t support flexible work, and others shared that they didn’t know how to start the conversation with their supervisor. A very small number reported that they weren’t interested in it, and even fewer indicated that they tried it and didn’t like it.

“Supervisor support is key to the success of flexible work options,” says Mason President Alan Merten. “All Mason supervisors should encourage their employees to ‘take the first step’ with a trial flexible work option when possible. It sends a clear message that we value and promote Mason’s flexible work culture.”

(To see how one department strategically uses flexible work options, watch the video on the Work/Life webpage.)

Individual comments within the Flex Census indicated that faculty and staff members highly value the flexible work culture at Mason. This is further supported by Quality of Work Life survey data that consistently highlight the importance of flexibility to Mason’s faculty and staff.

“While not every position is suited to telework, many positions are suited to some type of flexible work, including flex time and compressed schedules,” says Rizna Ahmed, director of benefits and absence management and a QWL Task Force member.

“Providing this kind of flexibility can be a key retention strategy,” Ahmed adds. “The strategic use of flexible work options can be thought of as another tool in the supervisory toolbox for recruitment, retention, continuity of operations, morale and much, much more.”

Alternate Transportation Options

Almost 24 percent of respondents reported using alternate transportation or parking options (e.g., shuttle, CUE Bus, car pool, van pool, Commonwealth Commuter Choice, bike racks, motorcycle/hybrid car parking spaces, etc.). The most frequently used options are the Mason to Metro shuttle and the CUE Bus. More than 38 percent of those who utilized such options indicated that they did so every workday.

Open-ended responses indicated strong support of the Mason Shuttle Program and the new Commuter Choice Program for bikes. Suggestions were plentiful and included increasing scheduling options for the shuttles and the number of hybrid car parking spaces available and improving shower facilities for bicyclists.

“We really appreciate the feedback,” says Josh Cantor, director of Parking and Transportation. “We also wanted to spread the word that Mason to Metro shuttles have been added this spring, so there are buses running every 15 minutes during peak times. Our new bike shelter program is under way, and shelters are now available in a variety of locations.”

Cantor also points out that participants in the Bicycle Commuter Benefit Program can use the showers in the Aquatic and Fitness Center and the RAC without having to pay a membership fee, and new shower facilities are also available in Founders Hall in Arlington on the B-2 level and in University Hall on the first floor.

The Flex Census is the first in a new series of short surveys the Task Force plans to use to supplement its general triennial survey.

“While we will continue to survey faculty and staff every three years on core quality of work life issues, we plan to use short, topical surveys in the interim to obtain real-time feedback on issues of importance to faculty and staff,” says Linda H. Harber, associate vice president for Human Resources and Payroll and co-chair of the QWL Task Force.

The complete Flex Census summary can be found on the QWL Task Force webpage.

For more information on flexible work options and transportation, see the following resources:



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