What Is a Flex Schedule? Definition and How It Works

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated February 22, 2021

Published February 25, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

In the modern workplace, many employers offer the benefit of a flexible schedule. Flexible work schedules draw applicants looking for a better work-life balance and can promote a happier, more productive work environment. In this article, we define flexible schedules, examine what employers expect in a flex work environment and provide helpful tips for working in a flex schedule.

What is a flex schedule?

A flex schedule is a work schedule that allows employees to work during a period convenient to them or where they feel they can maximize their productivity. This means that employees with flexible schedules are given the freedom to fulfill their jobs at any time of the day or week beyond the constraints of the traditional 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. five-day work schedule.

Office workers who have flex schedules are sometimes allowed to come to work anytime between the opening and closing hours of a company provided that they meet the required hours of work per day or per week.

Telecommuters such as virtual assistants, remote staff and home-based freelancers are often required to meet certain hours of work per day or week by their employers. Freelance writers, online software developers, web designers and graphic artists are usually commissioned to meet deadlines while working at their preferred hours. Others follow the traditional working hours, but can choose their own time off on the condition that they still work five days a week.

Companies that allow their staff to work both at home and in the office give their employees a chance to choose between working a limited office schedule or with flexible hours in the comfort of their home.

Related: What Is Telecommuting?

Why do some companies have different flex schedules?

Flex schedules vary greatly depending on the nature of the job and the industry of a business. Some industries allow highly flexible work schedules, while others are limited to the operation time of a business.

Flex schedules in the service industry such as restaurants, hospitality, retail and healthcare depend on the number of sales, clients the staff receives and the opening and closing time of the business. For example, if the business hours of a retail store are from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., staff can sometimes negotiate with each other how to schedule their shifts and days off in order to meet the operation hours of the store.

Outsourcing IT companies and task-based staffs often have more autonomy over their time, especially in project-based tasks where the output and goal are prioritized. This means that as long as they finish their projects on time, they are free to work at their convenience. However, many project-based workers have milestones to meet throughout the project.

Related: Work From Home Jobs That Pay Well

What do employers expect from staff working in a flex schedule?

Common expectations that employers have for staff with flex schedule include:

  • Achieving work-life balance

  • Reduction of work absences

  • Increased punctuality at work

  • Having better work output and time management

  • Accountability from employees

Getting work-life balance

Balancing work and personal life can be challenging when you have a job that consumes most of your active time. However, having enough time for personal affairs and social life is also important to avoid being burned out and to release some stress from work.

Having a flexible work schedule means that employees are usually expected to balance their daily schedules both for work and personal matters. Since employees now have the ability to work at any given time or at least move around their schedule, they can meet family needs or have more time for their social life and ease mental and physical stress.

Reduction of work absences

The lenience that employers give to their staff through flex scheduling comes with the expectation that employees have fewer absences from work. Since employees have the chance to move around their schedule without violating policies set by the employers, they can attend to issues like doctors' appointments or continuing education outside of work hours.

Increased punctuality at work

One of the reasons why people are late to work is because of the commuting hours. Flex schedules help employees avoid peak commuting hours, which can lessen the time it takes to commute to work.

Having better work output and time management

Some people may have trouble getting up in the morning, and perform better at work during the latter part of the day. With flex schedules, employers expect their staff to work in a more open environment where they can do more with their time. Therefore, employers may expect better output from employees working in a flex schedule because of the freedom employees get for other activities.

Accountability from employees

While flex schedules may give employees a sense of freedom, they should also have an increased sense of responsibility. With a flex schedule, your employer will hold you accountable for completing assigned tasks at the same quality and quantity that you would maintain in a traditional work environment.

Related: Time Management Skills: Definition and Examples

Tips for working in a flex schedule

Here are some tips for maximizing a flex schedule at work:

  • Inform your supervisors or employers of your schedule plans

  • Build a better relationship with fellow workers and your employer

  • Maximize your time to avoid burning yourself out at work

  • Try to keep a consistent working schedule

Inform your supervisors or employers of your schedule plans

Even though working in a flex schedule gives you the opportunity to manage your own time, it is beneficial to remember that you are also working with other people in the company.

Inform your supervisor or employer of your plans every time you want to make major changes in your schedule. Communicating with your employer about your schedule is a good way to get support from them, since they can give you advice on maintaining a work-life balance without scheduling conflicts.

Build a better relationship with fellow team members and your employer

Building strong relationships with your coworkers is important to teamwork and overall company productivity. It can be extremely helpful in flexible working environments, as it makes scheduling easier. You might cover a shift they need covered and they, in turn, could do the same for you. Solid work relationships with coworkers may make negotiating for shifts with colleagues much easier if your relationship with them is built with trust.

Maximize your time to avoid burning yourself out at work

One of the advantages of having a flex schedule at work is the ability to make more of your time. If you are strategic in choosing your schedule, you might be able to accomplish more tasks throughout the day.

If you are working in an office, make sure to pick an off-peak schedule to avoid commuting in hours where everyone else is traveling to work. The time you save in going to and from work can be used to complete chores that you usually do on your day off. You can also have more time to relax during your days off since most of your tasks at home are already done during your workdays.

If you feel overworked after a busy schedule, try moving one of your days off next to the others to have a longer time to relax. For example, if your days off for one week are Saturday and Sunday, try having one day off for next week on Monday so you can extend your rest time.

Try to keep a consistent working schedule

Maintaining a consistent schedule will enable you to work more efficiently and increase your productivity. Try to begin work at the same time every day and work for the same length of time whenever possible. This will help reduce distractions and allow you to better focus on the task at hand. Sticking to the same schedule every day also makes it easier for you to monitor your progress at work.

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