Boosting flexibility

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    'Credit' time-swap system aims to give faculty more schedule flexibility.

    In an effort to retain faculty members by improving their work–life balance, Stanford University School of Medicine in California has created a credit-banking system. Faculty members will receive credits for the time they spend on mentoring, committee work and similar tasks; they can cash in the credits for gift certificates at businesses approved by the medical school to help them with tasks such as editing manuscripts, writing grant applications, housework or meal preparation. The system aims to put a formal value on time spent on non-research activities. Faculty members “can buy back time that they would have spent at home to help them elevate their role in the lab”, says Jennifer Raymond, a neurobiologist at Stanford and associate dean for faculty development. “We're hoping to demonstrate that we can increase faculty flexibility and sanity,” she adds. “We also believe that we'll increase retention and recruitment.” The pilot programme will run for a year, after which administrators will compare faculty productivity and workplace satisfaction before and after the launch. If the pilot programme is deemed to be successful, it will be expanded to faculty members across the university.

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    Boosting flexibility. Nature 491, 151 (2012) doi:10.1038/nj7422-151c

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