What is flex working?
A flexible schedule allows employees to work outside traditional hours, during the times that are most convenient for them or when they feel they’re most productive. Many flexible schedule arrangements require employees to complete a minimum number of hours each week or work a percentage of their time during traditional hours, but they still let employees build a schedule around other commitments and achieve a better work-life balance.
In addition to flexible hours, this type of scheduling includes telecommuting, which allows employees to work from their home or another remote location during some or all of their shifts.
6 types of flexible work schedules
You might want to choose from these six popular types of flexible work schedules to offer your employees:
1. Flexible time
In this arrangement, employees are welcome to come and go from the workplace as they please, as long as they meet a minimum number of hours per day or week and are available for specific events, like meetings. In some cases, employers set core hours—times during the day or week when they require all employees to be on site.
For example, an employer may require all employees to be in the workplace from 10am to 2pm but allow them to work the rest of their shift whenever they like. That way, those who prefer to work early or late can incorporate these core hours into their adjusted schedule.
Also called a work-from-home (WFH) policy or remote work policy, telecommuting offers employees the freedom to work from any location, as long as they can access the technology necessary for their job duties. Some employers allow employees to work from home as little or as often as they like, while others require at least some time on-premises.
For example, an employer may require all employees to work in the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays but allow them to work remotely throughout the remainder of the week.
Offering part-time work allows you to source talented professionals who are unable to commit to a 40-hour workweek. This is an ideal arrangement for employers who need assistance covering certain responsibilities but don’t have enough work to necessitate a full-time employee.
In other cases, employers may hire two or three part-time employees to cover a full-time role. For example, one employee may cover the first half of the week while another employee works for the second half.
4. Compressed workweek
In a compressed workweek setup, employees work longer shifts in exchange for fewer working days. For example, instead of working five eight-hour days per week, as is expected in a traditional 40-hour arrangement, employees might work four 10-hour days. Employers may also choose to offer this as a seasonal perk during the summer months (often called “Summer Fridays”) when many employees are already requesting vacation time.
5. Floating holidays
Floating holidays are discretionary personal days that can be used in conjunction with paid time off (PTO). It’s a flexible benefit that some employers offer so that employees can take time off without using their banked PTO. Floating holidays can be tricky because, when it’s tied to a specific holiday, it can be considered as a wage should the employee leave the company. This means that the company would have to pay the employee for the floating holiday as state law requires.
6. Job Sharing
Job sharing is a creative, functional arrangement where two workers share the responsibility for one job. The share of the benefits and responsibility is dictated by how the job is split, whether it’s 50/50 or some other combination. Both individuals are considered job partners and can even have overlapping schedules. It can be a challenge to find fully compatible partners, but when it happens, they each bring their strengths and skills to the position.
Keep in mind, you can combine multiple types of flexible work schedules depending on your organizational culture and needs. For example, some companies offer both flexible time and telecommuting to maximize employees’ freedom.
What are the benefits of flex working?
Allowing your employees more freedom to choose where and when they work provides numerous benefits for your organization.
Here are just a few of the advantages of offering a flexible work policy:
- Attract more talent: Some highly qualified professionals may choose not to apply for jobs with companies that observe rigid work hours because they have outside obligations, such as taking children to and from school, caring for a sick loved one or working a second job. Others may be a perfect fit for your organization but live too far away to commute or come to the office during regular work hours. By removing these restrictions, you can attract even more talented professionals and grow your applicant pool.
- Increase productivity: When employees don’t feel burdened by rush hour traffic or forced to work at times of the day when they’re less efficient, productivity generally improves. Some individuals perform best in the early hours of the morning, some work best at night, and others prefer to spread their work out into multiple sessions throughout the day. Additionally, because flexible work schedules can increase employee engagement, workers may be more focused and dedicated during their respective work times.
- Improve employee work-life balance: Many employees struggle to manage the demands of their career while also finding time for family, friends, hobbies and self-care. This often leads to higher rates of stress and puts employees at an increased risk of burnout. When employees are overwhelmed with stress, performance and productivity suffer.
- Reduce absenteeism: Companies with strict work hours that require employees to work on-premises can make it difficult for employees to manage outside obligations, such as a household emergency or a sick child. If you offer employees flexible schedules, they can work around those obligations, resulting in fewer unscheduled absences, fewer disruptions and more projects delivered on time.
How to make flex days effective at your organization
Some employers may be concerned about how offering flexible work schedules could negatively impact performance and make managing employees more challenging. However, by committing to the right strategies, flex working can improve performance and strengthen the bonds between employees and their managers.
Here are a few things you can do to make flexible schedules work for your organization:
- Set clear expectations: It’s critical that you clearly communicate your boundaries and expectations before allowing employees to participate in a flex schedule program. Ensure your workforce understands how many hours they’re required to work, when you want them on-premises, how often you expect them to check in with managers and the repercussions of failing to meet these expectations. When employees understand what’s expected of them and the penalties they may face if their performance slips, they’re less likely to break the rules.
- Provide the right technology: Technology is essential for flex work policies to succeed, especially when telecommuting is involved. Your organization must choose software that allows employees to easily communicate and collaborate no matter when and where they’re working.
- Hold employees accountable: For flexible work schedules to be successful, employees must be self-disciplined and able to work efficiently without constant supervision. In addition to ensuring your new hires can self-manage, it’s also important that existing employees understand they’re responsible for their actions regardless of when or where they’re working. Instead of ending your flex work program because some employees are failing to get their work done on time, hold your underperformers accountable.
You may also choose to roll out your flexible work program over time and only allow employees to participate after they’ve proven they can meet performance expectations. Knowing they can earn this perk can motivate employees to achieve their goals. However, be sure you’re upfront during your hiring process, as some employees may require flexibility from day one.
How can you use flex working as a recruiting tool?
Because flexible work schedules are such an attractive perk, it can be useful to promote them as part of your recruiting efforts. Here are a few ways you can mention this benefit:
- Share it on your Indeed Company Page: Job seekers often use Indeed Company Pages to learn more about employers before they apply to an open position. Be sure to display information about your flexible schedule program to help encourage interested professionals to apply.
- Add it to job descriptions: Including this enticing perk in your job descriptions can help you inspire qualified professionals to complete the application process.
- List it as a benefit on your company’s careers page: If you have a careers page on your company website, include your flexible work policy alongside your other attractive perks. If your organization has a social media presence, you may want to consider sharing it there too.
- Discuss it during screenings and interviews: Be transparent about your flexible work policy throughout the hiring process. While many professionals are already familiar with flex schedules, it’s helpful to explain how it works at your organization and the many advantages it offers.
As flex schedules become more common, job seekers will more likely consider this benefit when weighing their employment options. By offering employees this level of freedom and autonomy, you can increase engagement, productivity and retention while also capturing the interest of top talent in your industry.
Frequently asked questions about flex schedules
What are the disadvantages of flexible working hours?
- The line between home and work is often blurred. In many cases, it may lead to family members misunderstanding that although you’re working from home, you’re not readily available to them.
- There could be miscommunication between office-based staff and telecommuting staff, possibly leading to project delays.
- Some flex work staff may be sidelined and less likely to progress in their careers.
- Some employees need active supervision to work effectively.
- In the case of compressed workweeks, some clients may not be able to work with those hours. This may lead to employees needing to work extra hours to accommodate them or face losing clients.
- Some employees may find it unfair that they’re only dealing with remote tasks or projects, while others may resent those who get to work remotely while they are stuck in the office.
Why do employees want flexible work?
Increased productivity and reduced burnout are some of the reasons employees want a more flexible work arrangement, and the technology is there to accommodate the practice well. It also improves collaboration because creativity and productivity spikes happen at different times for each employee. It’s also possible to have a stronger team when every member can contribute at their own time.
What is the 5/4/9 work schedule?
The 5/4/9 flexible work arrangement is a compressed work schedule of 28 days with no rotation. Every two weeks, teams work eight nine-hour days and one eight-hour day, for a total of 80 hours for each team every two weeks. On Monday, one team works, providing 50% coverage. Tuesday through Thursday, both teams work, but on Fridays, both teams work, with one working an eight-hour shift while the other works nine hours.
Do flex hours work for every business?
Flex hours don’t work for all businesses. It should only be implemented for employees who can work remotely. For example, retail staff wouldn’t be able to work remotely, but the executives in the company who work in marketing and finance could. The company needs to have the technical infrastructure to support employees who need to log in to company portals. Businesses need to weigh all factors when considering a flex work policy.