How to Manage a Flexible Work Schedule
Flexible work is no longer something just for remote workers or freelancers, many traditional office environments are offering flexible schedules to their employees.
Balancing a healthy work and personal life can be advantageous for many employees, but it can be for employers too. The benefits of flexible work can put you ahead of your competition with efficiency and employee satisfaction.
What Is a Flexible Work Schedule?
A flexible work schedule is an alternative work schedule that allows employees to:
- Choose where they work from
- Have different arrival and departure times
- Orient their workday however they’d like
Flexible work schedules are not addressed under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Instead, alternative work arrangements like flexible work schedules must be agreed upon by the employer and employee.
Preferred work schedules vary among employees based on employee age and other factors. According to a YouGov.com survey, 69 percent of Americans prefer an earlier work schedule, 17 percent prefer an 8 AM to 4 PM schedule and 14 percent would prefer to work from 7 AM to 3 PM. Approximately 20 percent would prefer a later work schedule.
Most flexible schedule arrangements require employees to complete a minimum number of hours of work each week. Aside from this requirement, employees typically have the opportunity to build their schedules around their personal lives.
Types of Flexible Work Schedules
1. Hybrid Work
Hybrid work is a type of flexible work arrangement that mixes in- person and remote work days. Hybrid work schedules could be Monday/Friday remote and the rest of the week in office, or even more flexible, which allows employees to choose when they come in.
There are different types of hybrid work models including split-team, shifts, and flexible.
- A split-team work arrangement consists of both full-time in office and remote employees.
- With shifts, all employees are office workers part of the week and remote the remainder of the week.
- A flexible work option allows team members to choose between working at the office and working at home.
2. Remote Work
Remote work arrangement allows employees to work from a location other than the office like a home, a private office, a co-working or shared space, etc. A flexible schedule that includes remote work can have numerous advantages for both employers and employees including:
- Helps decrease or eliminate timely commutes
- Enhances business continuity
- Reduces expenses from office space
- Attracts and retains talent
However, remote work requires companies to establish clear policies to ensure that workers have a clear understanding of expectations.
3. Snowbird Programs
Snowbird programs are used to describe alternative work arrangements where employees move to warmer climates during the winter months and return to work in the warmer months. In some cases, a “snowbird” will choose to continue working in the warmer climate if the company has other locations in these areas.
Many employees that love to travel and live where it is warm choose to participate in snowbird programs when offered by their employer. Having flexible work schedules that help workers maintain a healthy work-life balance can improve employee engagement and reduce turnover.
4. Compressed Workweek
A compressed work schedule allows employees to work a traditional 35 to 40-hour workweek in fewer than five days. The most common example of a compressed workweek is the 4-day workweek which has gained a lot of attention in recent years. With this type of workplace flexibility, full-time employees generally work four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days.
There are many benefits of a compressed workweek. Having an additional day off each week affords employees the opportunity to maintain a better work-life balance. Employees continue to retain full pay and benefits, while reducing commuting costs and times. There are also fewer interruptions during non-regular office hours which can lead to higher productivity.
5. Daily Flexible Schedule
Daily flexible schedules allow employees to arrive at work and depart early or go into work late and stay late. Employees can choose to take extra time at lunch and make it up at the start or end of the day. With this type of schedule flexibility, employers may choose to establish core hours in which employees must work, such as from 10 AM to 3 PM.
In some cases, an employee’s flexible hours may become their regular schedule. Many employees prefer to stray away from traditional work hours and a daily flex schedule allows them to create a schedule that works for them.
Flextime is a work arrangement that allows employees to alter the start and/or end times of their workweek. With flextime, employees still work the same number of scheduled hours as they would with a traditional schedule and core hours may apply.
For flextime arrangements to be successful, they must serve the needs of both the employee and the department or unit in which they work. The main focus should be on meeting business demands and maintaining optimal job performance. It is important to have a written agreement signed by both parties that outlines all expectations.
7. Job Sharing
Job sharing is a flexible work arrangement in which two employees work part-time schedules to complete the work a single employee would do with a full-time job. While a fairly uncommon practice, job-sharing programs appeal to workers who are interested in reducing their hours to care for a loved one at home or would prefer a lighter workload.
Having a flexible work policy in place like job sharing can help employers retain experienced employees in search of a better work-life balance. This type of program may also reduce benefits costs for employers.
How to Manage Flexible Work Schedule
1. Weigh Opportunities and Challenges
- Productive Employees – Flexible work schedules provide employees with convenience, thus reducing their work stress and improving their mental and physical health. Worker morale improves and absenteeism becomes less frequent.
- Retention and Engagement – Employees with a healthy work-life balance often feel happier and more fulfilled, resulting in higher retention and improved engagement.
- Sustainability – Reducing energy costs, travel, and paperwork are also effective ways to decrease your environmental footprint.
- Work/life Balance – Flexible work schedules empower employees to improve their work-life balance, resulting in greater employee satisfaction. Recruitment also gets easier as top talent is often drawn to companies willing to offer flexible work schedules.
- Working as a Team – It can be challenging for employees to work as a team when a workforce has varied hours and some work on-premises while others work remotely. Collaboration requires more planning and coordination to ensure that everyone remains in communication.
- Proximity Bias – Some companies who offer flexible work schedules may experience proximity bias in which those who are physically closer to company leaders experience more advancement opportunities compared to those who are fully remote or hybrid.
- Balancing Control and Freedom – Employees who are given flexibility in their work schedules may have trouble balancing their newfound independence with control from their employer.
- Building A Community – Many employees thrive in a social workplace. It can be difficult to build a community that fosters a good work ethic and productivity within a company with flexible schedules.
- Consistent Company-Wide Communication – Communication can sometimes become a problem within workplaces with flexible schedules. When employees are in and out of the office at different times, it can be difficult to keep everyone in the loop.
2. Set Clear Expectations
While a company may offer a flexible work schedule, it is still important to have rules in place. Establish clear expectations for employees and ensure that they understand what is expected of them from the start.
3. Schedule Check-Ins
Require employees to provide updates on their progress on a routine basis. These check-ins will encourage employees to meet deadlines and provide managers with peace of mind.
4. Plan Team Building Events
Planning team-building events can be especially beneficial for companies that offer flexible work schedules, especially when some employees work on-premises and others remotely. Team building can increase communication, improve employee motivation, enhance planning skills, and boost employee collaboration.
5. Pay Attention to Inclusions and Fairness
When developing flexible work schedule policies, it’s important to be fair. This means that all employees at the same level should have access to the same opportunities. Employees should also feel comfortable going to the company’s human resources (HR) department if they want to address a problem or concern regarding their schedule.
6. Develop Efficient Workflows
Flexible work schedules can interrupt workflows when managers give out unclear assignments, assign unnecessary tasks or spend extended amounts of time in meetings. It is important to develop efficient workflows that will save significant time and money in the long run.
7. Consider Employee Preferences
Not all employees want the same thing when it comes to their work schedules. It can be beneficial to perform surveys or collect feedback in other ways to determine employee preferences.
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