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After many people got a taste of the freedom that comes with remote work and other flexible arrangements during the early days of the pandemic, it went from being a valuable benefit, to a priority for some job seekers.

Employers know this, and, according to Molly Johnson-Jones, CEO and co-founder of Flexa Careers, some are now trying to lure new employees to the company with what she has termed “fake flexibility”—or, false promises and misleading information about their flexibility policies.

In a recent interview with CNBC Make It, Johnson-Jones outlined three signs that a company’s flexible work policy is a lie.

Signs a job is offering you fake flexibility

Although spotting the words “flexible work” in a job description may seem promising, Johnson-Jones explains that it’s actually problematic, because the term itself is so vague. “It’s easy to be noncommittal about what kind of arrangement, exactly, you’re offering,” she recently told CNBC Make It.

To help you determine whether the flexibility a job promises is fact or fiction, Johnson-Jones suggests keeping an eye out for these three signs of fake flexibility:

The policy doesn’t include specifics

Companies that actually offer flexible working arrangements typically provide details about the policy in a job description—like a breakdown of the specific hours or days an employee is expected to work in the company’s office, versus at home.

“If a company you’re looking at boasts of a ‘flexible working environment’ or says ‘open to flexible working,’ with no other color or explanation to support what that looks like in practice, it’s likely that they don’t truly offer it,” Johnson-Jones explains.

The interviewer doesn’t bring it up

Employers know that flexibility is important to employees, so it’s not a great sign if they don’t bring it up during the interview, or aren’t able to give you a straight answer when you ask about it.

In situations like that, Johnson-Jones recommends asking these questions to help you suss out a company’s actual approach to flexibility:

  • “I’d love to understand a bit more about the culture of your working environment. How would you describe it?”
  • “How has the pandemic shifted the way that your company thinks about work?”

It’s only available upon request

Be wary of job descriptions that mention flexible working arrangements that are available “upon request” or “on a case-by-case basis,” says Johnson-Jones. These policies give prospective employees the false sense that flexibility is available, but in reality, these requests may never be approved.

“If a workplace is really about the well-being of their employees and believes in the benefits of flexible working,” she explains, “they won’t make you jump through hoops before you’re ‘allowed’ to access this benefit.”



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