Members of the Fashion Industry group at Friedman LLP.
Members of the Fashion Industry group at Friedman LLP. Friedman LLP

Starting January 1, 2017, top 100 firm Friedman LLP has formally implemented a new program dedicated to workplace flexibility, putting work/life balance at the forefront of their firm's culture. Dubbed the "Alternative Work Arrangement" (AWA) program, the new initiative allows firm professionals to start setting their own hours, tailored to their own responsibilities and schedules.

“We realize that our employees lead complex lives, with various, and at times conflicting, demands,” stated Harriet Greenberg, Friedman's co-managing partner. “Our goal in formalizing this policy was to remind employees that we value their contributions and well-being. We don’t believe a work environment should include unnecessary choices such as ‘career or family,’ or ‘work or a fulfilling social life.’”

Under the new AWA program, professionals can now apply for reduced hours, remote work/work from home, and "non-core hours" granted they are available to work the firm's new common core hours between 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Furthermore, “busy season” weekend hours - between January and April - will no longer be considered mandatory, and based rather on individual schedules and client needs.

"Our AWA has the ability to be a year-round program; in most cases our employees are adjusting what the AWA means to them depending on the time of year," Lindsay Gaal, director of Human Resources, told Accounting Today. "Our people understand our client demands and needs while also understanding their needs and finding the balance between the two is what makes the program successful."

The AWA will follow the firm's other work/life programs, including Summer Fridays implemented Memorial Day through Labor Day, as well as a policy of "periodic flexibility," which urges professionals to make up "any lost time on another day," according to the firm.

"A successful AWA is about transparency and honesty," added Gaal. "Employees tell us what they need and we share with them what the firm needs, together we find a balance. In some cases we may ask for flexibility depending on the time of year and often times employees ask for the same back. Creating an environment of openness and communication are the building blocks to our program being successful."

According to the firm, the creation of the AWA program was a highly collaborative effort, with focus groups consisting of all levels of employees building a system that let them best meet their professional needs.

For more on Friedman, head to the firm's site here.

Sean McCabe

Sean McCabe is a senior editor with Accounting Today.