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As flexibility grows in importance for many workers across the country, companies are looking to find new ways to accommodate the various needs of their workforces. The balance of adaptability and business needs has yielded an interesting result – in some cases, employees are actually working less than before.

The part-time model has been around for ages, but it frequently carries a negative connotation and is often associated with low-paying, low-impact jobs rather than career paths. Instead, companies have been experimenting with reduced-load work arrangements, and many have been surprised by the results.

Working less, benefiting more?
The idea of assigning less work to employees may seem counterintuitive, but HR professionals stand by the benefits of reduced-load arrangements. According to Human Resource Executive Online, there are a few key components to such a system. First, employees actively reduce their workloads, either by volume or in terms of the time spent at work. Of course, this comes with a proportionate pay cut for salaried employees. A key distinction is that the reduced-load employees aren't putting their career development on the back burner. Even people in management positions can have reduced-load arrangements, the source indicated. 

How it helps
One of the principal issues reduced-load work addresses is the increasing stress over long work hours and workloads. It's no secret that the U.S. is one of the longest-working nations in the world, at least in terms of average work week – while we're used to 40 hours over here, in other parts of the world, people work 30 or even 25 hours as a means of maintaining work-life balance. As one writer for The New York Times noted, shorter work weeks can lead to less stress among employees, reducing absenteeism and turnover while maximizing engagement and productivity. There are even ecological benefits, if controlling emissions and your environmental footprint is a goal for your company.

Reduced-load versus part-time
Unlike part-time work, reduced-load arrangements don't disqualify employees from benefits, raises, promotions and other perks reserved for full-time staff. Additionally, the flexibility afforded by reduced-load work is a two-way street, with workers being expected to make themselves available when needed rather than adhering to a strict 9-to-5 schedule. 

For more information on reduced-load work and employee classifications, PEO companies can provide valuable resources to small-business owners and executives. Even companies that don't host in-house HR services can benefit from these HR outsourcing firms.