Despite the "proven benefits" and "low-implementation cost" of alternative work schedules, says Linda Tarr-Whelan of the National Education Association, "only 7 percent of American workers now work on an alternative pattern. Most are still punching a time clock and can lose their jobs if they are 15 minutes late."

The most persuasive argument for convincing employers to "humanize" the workplace, she says, is that "it will pay off. As a manager who implemented flexitime in a public agency of 10,000 employes in 250 separate offices (New York State Department of Labor), I know flexitime works."

Employes interested in lobbying for alternative work schedules, she says, must:

* Gain acceptance of top management. "Enthusiasm is better, but tacit acceptance is absolutely imperative to overcome the active and passive resistance of middle managers and petty tyrants who feel threatened."

* Decide on a schedule. Consider "core time"--when everyone is in the workplace. Do you want "double core time" (variable starting time and variable length of lunch time) or "single core" (variable only in starting time)?

* Develop a pilot project. Involve enough workers in enough locations, including those with supervisory resistance.

* Discuss and negotiate the plan with supervisors and employe groups. Prepare for peculiar problems like cafeteria hours, parking-lot access and bus schedules.

For more information on alternative work schedules, contact:

* Women's Research and Education Institute of the Congresswoman's Caucus, 204 Fourth St. SE, Washington, D.C. 20003.

National Council for Alternative Work Patterns, 1925 K St. NW, Suite 308, Washington, D.C. 20006.

* Association of Part-Time Professionals, P.O. Box 3419, Alexandria, Va. 22302. Tel. 370-6206.