Every employee dreams of a schedule that gives them the freedom to come and go as they choose, but this kind of scenario can easily become an HR department’s nightmare. Even still, there are many companies that see the value of enabling employees to have a say in when they work, and they’re putting it into practice. And there are probably even more that would like to but aren’t sure how to make it happen. As with anything, there are both positives and negatives to offering flexible schedules, both for the company and the employees.
From employees to managers to the HR department, there are many parties involved that must be considered. Communication, morale, and productivity are just a handful of the factors to evaluate if you’re on the fence, deciding whether or not to offer flex schedules at your company.
There’s no denying that employees can benefit from a flexible work schedule. Work-life balance is a constant struggle for nearly anyone who works full-time and has a significant other, children, or close friends and family, and flex schedules allow employees to fit in some of the other important events – and people – in their lives. There is certainly something to be said for the boost in morale that can occur when employees feel more in control. And as we have learned over the last decade or so, many companies are offering out-of-the-box perks, with flex schedules being one of them – so you may be giving your company an edge when it comes to recruiting.
Productivity is one of the most important issues to consider when it comes to flexible schedules. Though it can be risky to offer flex schedules, research actually shows that employees tend to work more hours when they’re working from home, though this is just one of many ways to offer a flexible schedule. Logically speaking, employees spend fewer hours commuting when they work from home or come and go before or after rush hour. This can lead to less turnover and burnout and can help employees to work when they are most productive, which benefits both employers and employees. Additionally, both parties can save a significant amount of money when a worker telecommutes even half the time.
The tricky thing about flexible schedules is that many of the positive aspects can quickly turn negative when used by the wrong person. While it is true that productivity tends to go up when employees have more freedom with their schedules, there will always be those who take advantage. To be sure, those who struggle to be productive in the office won’t likely benefit from an extremely flexible schedule. Additionally, boundaries must be set, because even the most devoted employee may find it easy to play with those boundaries when life gets in the way.
Communication can also be a struggle when you’re dealing with remote workers or employees coming and going at different times. Depending on the nature of the job, you may need anywhere from one hour of face time each week for a staff meeting to several hours each week for collaboration. It’s all possible, but employees must have the right equipment available and know how to use it. Video conferencing, project management programs, such as TeamworkPM and Basecamp, instant messaging systems, and more can aid in communicating with those working flex schedules.
Flexible schedules are just as the name implies: flexible. That means that your flexible schedule offerings can be anything from a span of a couple of hours at the beginning and end of the day in which employees can choose what time to arrive and leave work as long as they put in an eight-hour workday, to partial or full telecommuting, to a condensed work week, and more. So if you choose to offer flexible schedules, it’s up to you to determine what type. Overall, flexible schedules can be a great thing for companies and employees, as long as you do a careful review of what will best work for your workplace.
Does your company offer flexible schedules? How do you handle the challenges and what are the biggest benefits you’ve seen? Let us know in the comments section below.
Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, is an author, speaker, Human Resources professional, and workplace social media expert who has a passion for recruiting, training, and all things social media. She is the president and CEO of Xceptional HR, and a leader in the HR community with more than 12 years of industry experience. The author of Tweet This! Twitter for Business, Jessica was named by HR Examiner as the second most influential recruiter on the Internet and the seventh most powerful woman on Twitter. She is a columnist for both SmartBrief and The Huffington Post, in addition to Blogging4Jobs and Human Resources One on One. Jessica has been interviewed for professional articles in CIO Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, SHRM’s HR Magazine, and on CBS. Jessica earned a Senior Professional in Human Resources designation in 2008, and holds a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Business from Kansas State University. Originally from a small town in Kansas, Jessica currently lives near Oklahoma City with her husband, Greg and daughter, Ryleigh.