Technology and flexibility in the workplace have changed how many organizations schedule their employees. Instead of insisting on an eight-hour workday spent onsite, companies are becoming more creative and flexible regarding how and when work gets done. Results aren’t gauged by how much face time employees put in at the office; their work is reviewed based on its quality and whether deadlines are met.
For employees, a flexible schedule makes managing work and family obligations easier. It allows people to participate more fully in their roles as a professional, parent, school board member, coach, avid exerciser and homemaker all at the same time. Allowing workplace flexibility is a great marketing tool for the company and a solid way to recruit and retain talented employees. It can also boost productivity and reduce sick time.
Types of Flexible Working Arrangements
There are many options for flexible working arrangements, including:
Part-time employment (reduced work hours)
Flex time scheduling (employees are available within core hours during the day, but may vary the times they arrive in the morning and leave in the afternoon)
Telecommuting (working from a remote location)
Compressed workweeks (working a full schedule in fewer than five days)
Phased return-to-work from leave (gradually increasing the number of hours worked after taking a leave of absence from work)
Job sharing (dividing tasks and hours among several staff members who all work part-time)
Summer hours (reducing work hours during summer months)
Phased retirement (gradually decreasing the number of responsibilities and hours worked)
Virtual work (working entirely through an electronic system without a formal work schedule or location)
Hoteling (employees share a workspace because they are only in the office for a portion of the week)
Employers may offer these options on an as-needed basis or as part of formal programs for all employees. Employers can also create a workplace that is entirely flexible with no defined work schedule (known as a results-only work environment). Most employers tend to land somewhere in the middle and have formal yet flexible arrangements.
Benefits of Flexibility
Many companies have successfully implemented flexible arrangements in the workplace. For companies with employees who are no longer forced to come to the office and do not have set work hours, turnover has declined and employee engagement has increased. These companies also received the following benefits from offering a flexible working environment:
Enhanced recruiting success
Employees are more accessible throughout the day
Reduced expenses for real estate costs
Reduced carbon footprint
Creating a Successful Program
Developing a program to make your workplace more flexible is fairly simple and requires minimal or no resources.
Create a link between flexibility and your organization’s goals. Determine how existing and future flexibility plans will align with your current and future company goals.
Expand on your current flexible work schedule offerings—re-evaluate who is eligible, how the program is used, how the program is administered and what is expected of management and employees.
Decide how flexible you want to be. You will need to balance corporate guidelines, individual needs, management desires, etc.
Get your management team to promote and administer flexible working arrangements.
Communicate with your employees about flexible arrangements as part of your total benefits offerings.
Link flexible arrangements to your business results by creating a measurement system that gauges that connection.
Sell the program to senior executives by highlighting how the program can positively benefit your bottom line.
As baby boomers retire and younger generations enter the workforce, employers have to be more adaptable to their busy schedules, not just being busy with managing the financial issues (learn more on the subject). Employers are finding that some workers may not like a traditional schedule, elder care responsibilities require greater flexibility, and parents insist that they have more time with their families. Furthermore, as the poor economy weighs on many organizations, employees may value more flexibility in lieu of a raise or bonus, which means savings for the company.