Work Life Balance: A Flexible Work Schedule
By definition, a flexible work schedule allows employees to work hours that are different from the normal company start and stop time. Employees can start earlier or later and leave earlier or later or they can take extra time at lunch and make it up. Flexible work arrangements can also include working off-site from a home office or job sharing. A flexible work schedule can have many benefits to an employee. It allows them to manage work/life balance more effectively and contributes to their feeling of control over their busy lives. Whether it is juggling various family responsibilities, appointments, a sick child or parent, knowing that they can manage work hours around these obligations reduces stress for the employee. Avoiding rush hour commuting can save time and money as well as reduce stress. An employee’s personal preference to work when they feel they can be the most productive can be accommodated. It is easy to see the benefits to employees with a flexible work schedule but what are the benefits to the employer?
There can be many benefits to employers who implement flexible work schedules. These arrangements contribute positively to employee morale. When morale is high, employees are engaged and committed to the organization they work for and as a result, are more productive. Absenteeism and tardiness are reduced and an organization is less likely to experience a high turnover of staff. Flexible hours can enable an employer to extend services to clients and customers for a longer period each day and as such, deliver improved service. The organization establishes itself as an employer of choice and is better able to recruit qualified employees. However, there are challenges for employers when managing employees with flexible work arrangements.
Most importantly, an employer must decide whether or not flexible work schedules will benefit their business and whether or not they can be accommodated. Also, if an employee is working off-site, how can you tell they are really working? How do you ensure that proper childcare arrangements are in place? How do you measure performance particularly in job sharing situations? To operate successfully, it is important to plan carefully and clearly communicate policies and expectations to employees in areas such as:
- Hours and days the employee will work
- How responsibilities will be handled or shared when the employee is not on-site or there is a job share arrangement
- For an employee setting up a home office, what office equipment will be provided and is the space appropriate
- Child care arrangements
- Scheduling of staff meetings to accommodate flexible schedules or overtime requirements
- Measureable goals
Creating a written document that outlines the policies you have agreed on is a must. Also, a regular review of the working schedule should be part of any flexible work arrangement to address changes in the organization’s needs or circumstances. It also provides and opportunity to communicate any problems and find solutions. Overall, in our busy world, flexible work schedules benefit employees and employers alike.
Please share you flexible work ideas by posting your comments to this blog post.