Involuntary vs. voluntary flexible work: insights for scholars and stakeholders

Anne Kaduk, Katie Genadek, Erin L Kelly, Phyllis Moen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Building on insights from the early stages of our research partnership with a U.S. Fortune 500 organization, we came to differentiate between voluntary and involuntary schedule variability and remote work. This differentiation underscores the complexity behind flexible schedules and remote work, especially among white-collar, salaried professionals. We collected survey data among the partner firm's information technology (IT) workforce to evaluate whether these forms of flexibility had different implications for workers, as part of the larger Work, Family, and Health Network Study. We find that a significant minority of these employees report working variable schedules and working at home involuntarily. Involuntary variable schedules are associated with greater work-to-family conflict, stress, burnout, turnover intentions, and lower job satisfaction in models that adjust for personal characteristics, job, work hours, family demands, and other factors. Voluntary remote work, in contrast, is protective and more common in this professional sample. Employees working at least 20% of their hours at home and reporting moderate or high choice over where they work have lower stress and intentions to leave the firm. These findings point to the importance of both stakeholders and scholars distinguishing between voluntary and involuntary forms of flexibility, even in a relatively advantaged workforce.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)412-442
Number of pages31
JournalCommunity, Work and Family
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health: [Grant Number U010H008788, U01HD059773]; Alfred P. Sloan Foundation: [Grant Number (Moen)]; Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development: [Grant Number U01HD051217, U01HD051218, U01HD051256, U01HD051276]; National Institute on Aging: [Grant Number U01AG027669].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Workplace flexibility
  • flexible work arrangements
  • remote work
  • schedule control
  • telecommuting
  • translational research


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