Sample Themes/Discussion Questions

The 2010 White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility provided an opportunity for small business owners, corporate leaders, workers, policy experts, and labor leaders to share their ideas and strategies for making the workplace more flexible for American workers and families, which can benefit American businesses and our economy as well.  The forum began with a panel discussion, followed by breakout discussions.  The following presents sample themes and related discussion questions.

  • The big picture & the dynamics of a changing workforce
    • How does workplace flexibility respond to a broad range of needs for American workers including everyday issues like care-giving responsibilities, family economic security, the ability to get further education or training, an aging workforce, opportunities for people with disabilities, transportation costs and traffic congestion, and religious observance?
    • Given that a growing share of American households are led by either single parents or two working parents, how does the workplace need to change to reflect this new reality?  What are the potential social benefits of making such changes?
  • The business experience
    • The economic benefits of workplace flexibility
      • How can workplace flexibility improve a company’s bottom line?
      • How can workplace flexibility reduce overhead costs and keep more Americans employed?
      • How does workplace flexibility affect worker productivity?
      • How can workplace flexibility policies improve the quality of job applicants that employers are able to recruit?
    • Challenges to workplace flexibility
      • What do you think are the biggest challenges in initiating and implementing flexible workplace policies?  Getting managers to accept and embrace these changes?  Adopting the necessary technology?
      • How do you ensure that workers at all different levels of the organization are provided with access to workplace flexibility policies?
  • The unique context for small companies
    • Small businesses operate with a different set of economic constraints and employee dynamics.  What kinds of flexible workplace policies have been particularly successful in small businesses?
    • How can technology enable small businesses to implement workplace flexibility, as well as potentially create new business opportunities?
  • The unique context for organizations who need workers to be  physically present to do their jobs
    • What are some of the challenges and innovative workplace flexibility solutions for workers who must be physically present to do their jobs?
  • The unique context for companies who have hourly and/or low-wage workers
    • Hourly workers often do not have predictable work schedules, which can make it difficult to manage their personal responsibilities. 
    • How can staffing schedules be arranged so that hourly employees are better able to meet their work and family responsibilities?
  • The role of state and local governments
    • Which states have implemented paid leave programs and what challenges and successes have they had?
    • How can state and local governments be model employers?


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