Valuing Alternative Work Arrangements

63 Pages Posted: 3 Oct 2016

See all articles by Alexandre Mas

Alexandre Mas

Department of Economics and Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Amanda Pallais

Harvard University

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 2016

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.

Suggested Citation

Mas, Alexandre and Pallais, Amanda, Valuing Alternative Work Arrangements (September 2016). NBER Working Paper No. w22708. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2846945

Alexandre Mas (Contact Author)

Department of Economics and Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University ( email )

Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Amanda Pallais

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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