Valuing Alternative Work Arrangements

Author
Abstract
We use a field experiment to study how workers value alternative work arrangements. During the
application process to staff a national call center we randomly offered applicants choices between traditional
M-F 9 am – 5 pm office positions and alternatives. These alternatives include flexible scheduling,
working from home, and positions that give the employer discretion over scheduling. We randomly
varied the wage difference between the traditional option and the alternative, allowing us to estimate
the entire distribution of willingness to pay (WTP) for these alternatives. We validate our results using
a nationally-representative survey. The great majority of workers are not willing to pay for flexible
scheduling relative to a traditional schedule: either the ability to choose the days and times of work or
the number of hours they work. However, the average worker is willing to give up 20% of wages to
avoid a schedule set by an employer on a week’s notice. This largely represents workers’ aversion to
evening and weekend work, not scheduling unpredictability. Traditional M-F 9 am – 5 pm schedules are
preferred by most jobseekers. Despite the fact that the average worker isn’t willing to pay for scheduling
flexibility, a tail of workers with high WTP allows for sizable compensating differentials. Of the worker friendly
options we test, workers are willing to pay the most (8% of wages) for the option of working
from home. Women, particularly those with young children, have higher WTP for work from home and
to avoid employer scheduling discretion. They are slightly more likely to be in jobs with these amenities,
but the differences are not large enough to explain any wage gaps.
Year of Publication
2016
Number
602
Date Published
09/2016
Publication Language
eng
Citation Key
9681
URL
Working Papers