Conventional wisdom says adults have to work 9-5 jobs, but that’s not really the case anymore. Punching in and out at the same time five days a week is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Today’s employee wants the freedom and variability of flexible working hours. While flexible schedule jobs aren’t a new phenomenon, the demand for them has definitely risen of late.
As a result, companies are more likely than ever to respond to the need for flexible working hours. In fact, some employees have come to expect flexible working hours. Read on to discover how this trend is playing out on both sides of the employer/employee equation.
The Current Demand for Flexible Working Hours
Flexible work schedules have profound implications for today’s companies and the people who work for them. We’ll dig into these a little bit later. In the meantime, let’s have a look at where this demand comes from in the first place. One thing we know for certain is that the past few years have witnessed an uptick in the desire for flexible schedule jobs. There are several reasons for this spike in popularity:
- More employees have too many non-work related pursuits and can’t commit to jobs with a conventional schedule.
- A rising number of people continue their schooling well into their work careers.
- Companies are hiring an aging workforce, many of whom are semi-retired.
- The responsibilities of childcare and other family obligations.
- Low unemployment rates and continuous worker shortages have given employees more negotiating power.
These are just a few of the many reasons employees prefer flexibility to a fixed schedule. Nevertheless, the upshot is fairly clear. If employers want to hire top talent, they’ll need to enact policies that allow for the freedom that today’s employees desire. Otherwise, they risk losing great employees to companies who already have flextime policies in place.
The Flextime Policy Trend
First, here’s a great way to define flextime. Essentially, flextime is an arrangement where employees can pick start and end times within pre-established parameters. Additionally, flextime includes a ‘core period’ when employees are required to work. The hours that employees work outside this core period is called flextime.
Flextime includes other restrictions as well. There’s the ‘bandwidth period’ requirement, for instance. The bandwidth period is a daily interval during which flextime hours have to be worked. The span of these periods varies from company to company. This window typically ranges from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m., though some companies allow certain exceptions. Here are six other common characteristics of the standard flextime policy:
- Employers usually mandate that employees work a set number of hours during a specified period of time,
- These periods can occur daily, weekly, or monthly.
- Employees have to achieve a prescribed level of productivity regardless of the schedule they choose.
- The flextime hours employees choose are usually based on things like child care, transportation restrictions, and the desire to avoid long commute times.
- Flextime often allows employees to work remotely, either from home or another convenient location.
- Working remotely benefits people with disabilities or children, as well as those who care for older relatives.
- Flexible schedules work best when employees can work alone or when communication technologies allow for collaboration.
The value of a flextime is often hard to assess. This difficulty applies to employers and employees alike. In the next section, we’ll check out the advantages and disadvantages of flextime for both groups.
The Pros and Cons of a Flextime Work Schedule
There’s a lot to be said for having a flextime policy in place, but companies still need to know what they’re getting into when they enact one. There are plusses and minuses for every policy you put into place, and flextime certainly isn’t an exception. We’ll go over the pros and cons of flextime for employers in just a moment. For now, just keep in mind that there’s a lot you need to consider before making such an important decision.
The same mixed bag of benefits and disadvantages applies to employees who work under a flextime policy. As we already saw above, there are many legitimate reasons for an employee to choose a flexible schedule job, but they too need to understand the possible implications.
Now, let’s have a look at the benefits employers can expect from adopting a flextime policy.
The Benefits of Flex Time For Your Organization
Here are the top ten benefits your organization can expect to get from a flextime policy:
- The low cost of implementing a flextime policy.
- A flextime policy will typically widen the range of an organization’s recruitment opportunities.
- Flextime can increase the level of diversity that exists in the workplace.
- Flexible work schedules tend to improve rates of employee retention.
- Better employee retention will result in less training and lower costs.
- Flextime policies can improve overall employee morale.
- Flexibility in the workplace can improve employee wellness.
- Improvements in employee wellness lead to lower absenteeism and consistent production.
- Using a remote workforce can decrease the costs of real estate, utilities, and turnover.
- Flextime policies can increase employee engagement and overall productivity.
The Benefits of Flex Time for Employees
Here are ten benefits employees can achieve under flextime policies:
- Less time spent commuting to and from work.
- More time for childcare and other family responsibilities.
- Flextime allows employees more time to pursue outside hobbies or interests.
- A flexible schedule job can help employees maintain a satisfying work/life balance.
- Flexible work hours tend to reduce work stress significantly.
- This stress reduction leads to better health outcomes and fewer sick days.
- The freedom of flexible working hours can decrease employee burnout.
- Flextime policies let employees work when they feel more focused and energetic.
- Flexible work schedules give employees a greater sense of control over their work life.
- Flextime jobs can lead to increased productivity and rapid career development.
The Disadvantages of Flextime Policies
Earlier, we mentioned that the value of flextime can be hard to gauge. This is because flextime is a relatively new practice. Additionally, it has a number of disadvantages. And sometimes these disadvantages can outweigh the benefits. Companies and their employees need to understand the following disadvantages of flextime policies:
- Less supervision of employees at certain times
- Higher chances of understaffing, especially during unexpected busy periods
- Slower response time to emergencies
- Extra difficulties when trying to track employee hours
- Less team cohesion
- Communication difficulties, especially outside core hours
- An increase in team conflicts that probably wouldn’t occur in a traditional work setting
- Employee isolation and loneliness
- Low levels of innovation and creativity
- Lack of mutual employee support
- Fewer opportunities to benefit from the ‘water cooler effect’
- Difficulties in time management
- Poorly defined boundaries between home and work life
- Interruptions in employees’ personal lives
- Difficulties understanding and adapting to change
- Decreased learning and coaching opportunities
- Lack of mutual trust
- Increased customer frustration, especially when their contact person is constantly changing
- Productivity lags from working in changing environments
- A lessened sense of belonging
Weighing the Pros and Cons
As you might have noticed, we presented an equal number of flextime pros and cons in the preceding sections. We did this to show you how hard it can to be decide whether or not to get involved in a flextime scenario. As a result, you should have all the information you need to make the right decision.
As employers, you’ll need to strike a balance between flexibility and your day-to-day needs. You might even decide that a flextime policy isn’t even an option. On the other hand, some companies experience great improvements after adopting flextime policies. It all depends on your company’s situation.
Similarly, some employees are cut out for flextime work while others just aren’t. Millennials tend to thrive under the conditions of flexible schedule jobs, for instance. People with skills that allow them to charge high hourly rates also tend to do well in flextime jobs. This is because flextime lets these ‘free agents’ work for the highest bidder, a practice which can increase their income significantly.
Generally speaking, the pros of flextime positions outweigh the cons. This is especially true when managers and employees have enough flextime experience to overcome the disadvantages. All in all, flextime usually leads to good outcomes for companies and their employees alike. Take everything we’ve talked about into account and you’re bound to make the right decision.
The Future of Flextime Policies
The increased demand for flexible working hours will continue to shape the workplace for years to come. It has already changed the hiring and recruitment practices of many successful companies. As a result of these changes, the rising demand for flexible schedule jobs will continue to have a huge impact on office dynamics and company culture.
The need for flextime policies are definitely here to stay, and many companies will have to reconsider how they do business because of it. In some ways, making flextime work is simply a management issue. Stay open-minded toward the possibility of a flextime policy and you’ll start reaping the benefits before you know it. We work in an evolving world and only those organizations who can make room for new possibilities will thrive as the flextime trend continues.