Despite delays due to the ongoing pandemic and rise of the COVID-19 Delta variant, many businesses are still planning and preparing a return to physical work environments. As such, leaders must decide whether to return to if the traditional 9-to-5 work week in the office, or shift to a more flexible work schedule for employees.
Flextime (also known as flexible working hours) describes a scenario in which employers allow employees or teams to choose their own work schedules. However, because there are no tried and tested guidelines for applying flextime and every organization is unique, the approach to implementation will from business to business.
For instance, Company A may allow all employees (or employees within a certain department) to choose their work schedule on a day-to-day basis. Company B may require employees to choose between four 10-hour days, five eight-hour days, or some other variation. Company C, on the other hand, may offer employees the option to work remotely for some days each week. Ultimately, how these decisions are implemented must be based on what works best for each individual organization and its employees.
Best Practices for Implementing Flextime
Irrespective of what flextime format business leaders choose to implement, adhering to the following guidelines will ensure optimal benefits:
- Employees’ preferred working hours must be relatively consistent. Employees may decide to work from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays to Wednesdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays. Ideally, this choice remains as consistent as possible, except under special circumstances or if the approach isn’t working well and requires adjusting.
- Create effective, efficient communication channels and task management protocols.
- Set core office hours (either for the entire office or for individual employees). This makes it easier to schedule meetings, maintain office coverage and facilitate collaboration.
- Ensure that there are regular forums where employees or teams on different work schedules can overlap in order to collaborate on cross-team projects and not hinder essential interactions across the organization.
The Benefits of Flextime
Savvy business leaders today are flexible about when employees can start and end the workday. It’s a great way to help maintain a positive work-life balance as well as an increasingly popular approach to improve the employee experience and boost productivity. Additionally, if flextime proves to work well for an organization, it can help foster a healthy company culture where employees feel innately trusted to get their work done well and on-time.
Instituting flextime for the workforce comes with several advantages for both employees and employers. We’ll take a look at a few of the primary benefits of flextime below.
Better Work-life Balance
Flextime gives employees the freedom to design a work schedule that seamlessly integrates with their personal life. This greatly improves work-life balance since employees are in control of the time they dedicate to both their personal and work life. As such, all employees are empowered to excel in both areas of their life and not succeed in one to the detriment of the other.
For example, one multinational technology company utilized the Humanyze Platform to measure the impact of remote work on its workforce. The initial data revealed that employees were working longer hours, on average, when working remotely. However, further analysis revealed that rather than increased after-hours work and longer working hours that could result in burnout, employees were actually benefiting from the ability to spread their work out over longer periods, taking breaks as needed to tend to personal and family tasks.
In addition to the freedom of designing a personalized work schedule, flextime provides the workforce with more time and opportunity to focus on their mental and physical health. Rather than working a predetermined schedule that takes no cognizance of personal welfare, employees can alter their working hours to align with activities that foster good health and well-being. These activities can include taking yoga/meditation classes, spending time with family, and going to the gym.
Flextime is a great way for businesses to adapt to the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainties surrounding return to physical work setups. COVID-19 did make remote work pervasive and flextime more attractive to businesses. However, a lot of companies are undecided whether to adjust permanently to the new normal, revert back to a pre-pandemic work setup or use a hybrid approach.
To help them get through this period, savvy business leaders are leveraging flextime to manage these unique challenges and test different approaches. Instituting flexible working hours enables employers to intelligently navigate this period of uncertainty and transition while remaining productive and adaptable. It also buys time for companies to come up with effective return to office policies.
Other potential benefits of flextime for employees include:
- Increased engagement
- Happier & healthier employees
- Relaxed office environment with greater work satisfaction
- Easier planning of quiet time in the office
- Reduced stress and fatigue
- Increased sense of trust and accountability
Although implementing flextime isn’t the best fit for every business or employee, it’s a potentially great way to optimize real-estate usage, attract/retain top talent, and improve the employee experience.
Business leaders are increasingly considering flextime arrangements for the benefits it offers to employees and the adaptability it offers the business. The creation and successful implementation of a flextime policy will require a thorough review of business processes, operational needs, and staffing patterns.
There may be a number of non-negotiable periods when employees must be available for events like weekly meetings, collaboration with other departments, and particularly busy times. Accounting for these factors when designing a flextime schedule for the workforce can skyrocket its effectiveness, boost productivity and improve the employee experience.