What is Flex Time? A Look at Pros and Cons for Your Business
What is flex time? Is this a policy that you should adopt in your small business?
Flex time refers to flexibility in employee work schedules – an increasingly popular workplace trend. These types of schedules can come in different forms, including:
- Compressed workweek (e.g., four longer days for full-time compensation)
- Flexibility in terms of start and end work times
- Some hours worked onsite with others worked from a different location such as the employee’s home
- Job-sharing, where two employees sharing responsibility for one position (e.g., one employee works in the morning, and the other works later in the day)
This trend has come about given that advances in technology – including the widespread use of mobile devices, cloud computing, and other digital advances – no longer require a physical presence in the workplace for some positions.
A quick look at perceived advantages and disadvantages of flex time may help you decide whether this approach makes sense for your business.
Employees may want or expect a flex time option. Employees, particularly millennials, have come to expect that a company offers a flexible work schedule. If job candidates don't see this included as part of an open job description, many may be inclined to move on in their job search.
It's also become a key resource for retaining a company's most talented workers. Employees generally view the flex time option positively, and see it as a sign of management’s respect and trust.
It's a boon to productivity. Most people have a peak time of productivity in a workday. When a flex time schedule centers around that peak time, employees can become more energized and productive, rather than attempting to maintain that peak level throughout an eight-hour day.
HR leaders are increasingly willing to help employees manage their work/life balance by offering flexible scheduling, according to a recent Paychex Pulse of HR Survey. In fact, the survey found that flex schedules are offered almost twice as often as any other non-traditional benefit.
Scheduling can be a potential hassle. Attempting to juggle different flex schedules can be an operational headache. This task may take up a large amount of valuable time to manage.
Meetings may not always include key employees. Technology easily permits off-site/remote employees to participate in workplace meetings. But if they're not scheduled to work at the time the meetings take place, employees could miss out altogether, regardless of their location. Organizing other types of group events (presentations, team-building sessions) can also present scheduling issues.
Continuity could be negatively affected. In a flex work arrangement where two employees share the same job duties, continuity could be disrupted. If one individual initiates a work project and the second individual sees it to completion, there’s a risk of inconsistencies and delays as both job sharers coordinate their efforts.
Tips for implementation
Prior to embarking on this approach, it's best to get answers to some key flex-time-related questions:
- Which positions lend themselves to flex scheduling?
- Which positions may not be as conducive to such a schedule?
- What objectives do you hope to achieve, such as enhanced recruitment and retention?
Knowing the answers at the outset, rather than figuring it out as you go, can improve the chances of successful flexible work schedule implementation.
Also, you must be clear in communications to employees about the change you're proposing. Carefully outline your expectations so that the rules are clear. Invest in up-to-date time tracking software so that employee hours can be closely monitored, and everyone remains accountable for the jobs they've been hired to do.
For many small businesses, offering flexible scheduling options may be an effective way to boost productivity and generate long-term loyalty in the organization.