The Pros and Cons of a Flexible Work Schedule
A Flexible Schedule Can Benefit Employers and Employees
Advantages for employers and employees exist when the employer allows employees to work flexible schedules. Whether the flexible work schedule involves compressing work days, flexible daily hours, or telecommuting, challenges exist for the employer and the employee. These challenges multiplied in the spring of 2020 as unheard of numbers of employees, for reasons of safety, started working remotely from home.
These are the advantages for employers and employees that negotiating a flexible work schedule provides.
With flexible work schedules, employees stand to experience a good number of benefits. One that many workers point to first is the flexibility to meet family needs, personal obligations, and life responsibilities conveniently. If you have a flexible schedule, you can go to a parent-teacher conference during the day, take a yoga class, or wait at home until the washing machine repair person comes.
Flexible work configurations allow employees to work when they accomplish most, feel freshest, and enjoy working. Many managers feel that early birds are hard workers and night owls are slackers. Evidence is not readily available that this is the case—in fact, much evidence to the contrary exists with either night owl or early bird personal choice yielding positives—it's simply cultural and preferential to a person's needs.
Flexible scheduling includes the ability to adjust the days and hours of being in the office and also allows workers to work remotely. Of course, with the commute to a home workspace, employees avoid the traffic and the stresses of commuting during rush hours. You might be amazed at how much faster a commute can be if you can drive to the office at 10 a.m. instead of at 8 a.m. during rush hour.
Employees save money by having a reduced consumption of commuting time and fuel costs. In some areas, commutes of more than an hour each way are not uncommon. If these employees are allowed to work from home, that saves two hours of time, gas, and wear and tear on the road. Fewer people driving means the drive is easier for those people who are commuting.
Employees get an increased feeling of personal control over their schedule and work environment. One reason people like to work for themselves is the control issue. By allowing employees to determine their own schedule and work environment, you appeal to the entrepreneurial spirit—which can be good for your employees.
Built-in flexibility also reduces employee burnout due to overload. Flexibility means employees can take a break when they need it without incurring the wrath of a manager.
Employee Childcare Costs
Depending on the flexible work schedule chosen, it may decrease external childcare hours and costs. You need to make clear to employees that for all but a handful of jobs, working from home still requires childcare because you can't work effectively while also entertaining a toddler.
However, if a couple both have flexible schedules, one party can go into the office at 6:00 a.m. and the other can get the kids ready for school. One person's 8-hour day is finished by 2:00 p.m. and can meet the bus at 3:00 p.m., while the other start their workday at 9:30 a.m. The result is two full-time jobs and incomes with no childcare costs.
Flexibility to better meet family and personal needs
Reduced commuting time and gas expenses
Have more control over your time schedule and working environment
Can work during the hours that fit your energy cycles best
Boosts employee morale
Reduces tardiness and absenteeism
Reduces employee turnover
Enhances company image as a family-friendly place to work
Difficult for office-based staff to work as effectively with telecommuting staff
Working from home may mislead loved ones about your availability
No clear dividing line between home and work
Some employees may not work efficiently without supervision
Compressed work weeks may mean client availability suffers
Feelings of unfairness when only certain employees have work that can be done remotely
Employers Gain Commitment
With flexible work schedules, employers experience benefits as well. Giving up some control of work schedules gives increased employee morale, engagement, and commitment to the organization. The option also reduces employee turnover, absenteeism, and tardiness by allowing workers to flex hours around home and family obligations. The flow of projects and work may increase as employees are able to work when they accomplish most, feel freshest, and enjoy working.
Employer Business Improvements
Offering flexible work schedules will increase your ability to recruit outstanding employees. You will develop an image as an employer of choice with family-friendly flexible work schedules. Providing options can extend your hours of operation which is especially important for departments such as customer service or technical support.
Cloud technology allows workers to touch documents outside the office environment. In some businesses, this allows the company to expand its area of service to other time zones or even globally. Using remote worker options, the business can hire workers from areas where hourly wages are lower and reduce their compensation overhead. However, care must be taken that the drive to lower wages does not harm the quality product of the service you provide.
Overhead costs may drop when you employ remote workers. You will reduce the square footage requirements of office space and the cost of desks, chairs, computers, and other necessary equipment.
Disadvantages for Employees
Employees who thrive in an office environment may find it difficult to work when colleagues don't hold the same schedule. Team efforts may require advanced planning and coordination of the employee's scheduled workdays and hours. This is why many employers require core days and core hours during which everyone is in the office or available for Zoom meetings.
No clear delineation between work and home exists with a flexible schedule. When you use flexible schedules sometimes that means work all of the time. If your manager allows you the flexibility to go to your child's soccer game, then the manager may not feel guilty about calling you at 9:30 p.m.
Remote workers can make neighbors and friends think you aren't actually working, thus causing problems with relationships. Family and friends can become upset when you say you can't watch their child, or let the repairman into their houses—because, after all, you're home all day.
Working from home—while becoming more common prior to the global health crisis—is still a foreign concept to many people. Working life may be altered forever as employers and employees became convinced of the efficacy of remote work.
Disadvantages for Employers
Some managers, who are used to seeing when their staff members come to work, watching what staff do all day at work, and knowing when people leave for home, have trouble adjusting to the new management style which requires trusting relationships. Also, in team-oriented departments, teams still need to meet, which requires set guidelines and the juggling of schedules.
Some people take advantage of the flexibility and the ability to work from home. If an employee requires structure, they may find it difficult to focus on work and not the household chores and entertainment. Office-oriented people sometimes view their work-at-home colleagues as slackers because they can't physically see their activity and productivity.
Compressed workweeks can make client handovers complicated—clients expect service 5 days a week during business hours and can be fussy when a particular employee isn't in on Friday. For this customer-centric reason, jobs that require customer-facing responsibilities only allow certain types of flextime. Whole days working from home are not an option. Other kinds of jobs such as assembly-line manufacturing and hands-on healthcare such as nursing share the same disadvantages. Employers struggle with fairness when only certain employees can work remotely.
The Bottom Line
Overall, the advantages generally outweigh the disadvantages and a good manager can handle the disadvantages. Flexible scheduling has become part of what employees are looking for in their comprehensive employee benefits packages. Your employees will love you; the employer will benefit from the overall positive morale which is linked to increased productivity. Best? You will retain your superior employees.