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Flextime Bids Fond Farewell To the 9-to-5

Malone's work arrangement consists of going into the office early Monday through Thursday and working from home on Friday mornings. He also works a compressed workweek, so he's off on Friday afternoons.

Alice McCaslin, who works four nine-hour days as a senior finance analyst at Abbott Laboratories outside of Chicago, said she, too, has to be flexible to make her situation work. She said there are times when she will have to come into the office on her day off, Monday, but that the company gives her comp time in return.

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"I give, I get my job done, and Abbott gives back," said McCaslin, who made the alternative schedule so she could spend more time with her two daughters. "It's good for me and it's good for my family."

Some 40 percent of Abbott employees use flextime, which is often arranged on a case-by-case basis. But the company also has a Web job board, where employees who want to work reduced or alternative hours can apply for other jobs -- or even post listings to "job share" with another worker who might be in the same position.

Though some companies are more progressive in the area of flexible work arrangements than others, experts tend to agree that eventually more and more companies will have to move forward in the arena as employees become more mobile and put more emphasis on different areas of their lives.

"There are more and more men, post-9/11," looking for other work arrangements, said Clapp of Right Management Consultants. "Before that, there were more people willing to sell their souls for advancement."

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, slightly more men than women worked flexible schedules even before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, which made many Americans rethink their approach to life. In May 2001, about 30 percent of men and 27.4 percent of women said they were on some type of flex schedule.

The data include not only people who arrange schedules by choice, but also those who work alternative shifts, including overnight, which may be a contributing factor to the higher percentage of men using flextime in this particular survey. According to the data, men were more likely than women to work alternative shifts, 16.4 percent compared with 12.1 percent.

But as more employees desire a flexible schedule and as technology continues to evolve, with laptops, e-mail, cell phones and pagers only getting better, the fear that employees won't be connected to the office by working from home or at varying hours is slowly disappearing. And as companies become more global, with work taking place at all hours, flexible schedules -- from both an employer and employee standpoint -- are becoming more necessary.

"How work gets done is changing dramatically," said Levey of Catalyst Women. "If you're in a Starbucks on your laptop or on a conference call at home -- that's work now."

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