Gone are the times of the 9-5 workday. Flexible work options are growing at an unprecedented rate—and they show no signs of slowing down. The benefits of flexible work are becoming impossible to ignore. From employees having more control over their lives to employers growing their profits, flexible work is proving to be the ultimate in workplace productivity solutions.
But is there a right way to flex?
In short, no.
The purpose of flexible work is that it’s flexible based on the needs of the employee and employer. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. (Check out our article “The 7 Types Of Flexible Work And How To Choose The Right One” for more info.)
But the longer answer is actually yes. There is a right way to flex your work schedule.
Flextime is the most controlled and adaptable form of flexible work options for any sort of situation or arrangement.
So why should you pursue a job with flextime? Or why should you offer flextime to your employees?
Flextime, often also called “adjusted hours,” is when you choose the hours you want to work. It removes the rules of the traditional 9 to 5 or the 8-hour shift. Instead, flextime encourages the employee to determine the timing and duration of their work.
In hourly jobs, this usually means self-selecting which hours or shifts to work “on the clock.” In salaried jobs, this usually means self-scheduling when to be in the office.
There are multiple ways you can implement flextime in your business. The best part about flextime is that it can be applicable to any industry or role.
Flextime is the most flexible of the flexible work arrangements. (Try saying that five times!)
There are four types of flextime that a business might opt for: complete flextime, flextime with schedule, flextime with core, and partial flextime.
1. Complete flextime
You can offer complete flextime with no set scheduling. This allows people to show up and leave as they please, as long as they get their work done and continue to meet certain metrics.
This works best for results-driven work in an environment with highly ambitious employees. Complete flextime is not recommended for customer-facing jobs or shift work, as you want to ensure there is always coverage in-house.
2. Flextime with schedule
This sort of arrangement is when employees self-schedule their own work based on a pre-set calendar. For example, a restaurant manager would input six “shifts” for the day. The employees can then choose which shifts they want to pick up (if any).
This can work with a variety of industries, especially hospitality or customer-facing businesses. This ensures that there is always coverage when needed, but employees still have complete control over their schedule.
The Forge platform is in the form of “flextime with schedule.” Employers hire workers and host a wide talent pool. Managers can then set certain shifts and hours. Employees in the talent pool can select the shifts they want to work. They can work as many or as few shifts as they’d like (with approval from the manager). With a wide talent pool, there are always workers available to self-select shifts and ensure full coverage for the customer.
3. Flextime with core
This working arrangement is similar to flextime with schedule, but the manager or scheduler sets a “core” that employees are required to work. People can choose their hours or pick up shifts, but they’re needed for a certain core time.
For example, if 6-7pm is the busiest time in your restaurant on Saturdays, you might schedule all of the shifts to overlap that hour. Everyone is present for the core hour to ensure optimal coverage, but there is flexibility around that hour.
This option is usually used for offices or during busy seasons. It doesn’t ensure full flexibility, so it removes some control from the employee.
4. Partial flextime
Partial flextime is when you assign a certain number of shifts per week and allow employees to “pick up” other shifts as necessary. For example, an employee might always work Mondays 3-9pm and Wednesdays 9am-2pm, but they have complete flextime for the other shifts in the week.
This is often used during busy seasons or for “off” shifts when you want to ensure you have people on staff. For example, if you know that none of your servers want to work the Wednesday morning shift because tips are low, you could have a required rotation between all servers. Some employees may also request this partial flextime as a way to have a more consistent schedule.
Still, employers can overcome this concern by hosting a wide talent pool. If you have enough employees on staff, you can usually cover the inconsistency, as there is always someone available to pick up those shifts.
The Benefits Of Flextime
There are a number of benefits for all flexible work options in general, but what about flextime specifically? Why is it the best solution for most employees and employers?
1. Flextime works for any situation.
Not all flexible work options work for all types of jobs. For example, telecommuting can’t work in a restaurant setting. You can’t serve a customer food over Skype. Some jobs, like in the medical industry, can’t be part-time because of a shortage of nurses.
But flextime can be applied to a variety of businesses in-office or out-of-office, with global or local teams, with big corporations or small mom and pop shops.
Flextime is results-oriented while still hosting the potential for customer-facing value.
Even surgeons—which is arguably one of the most challenging jobs to make flexible— can benefit from flextime. Surgeons can work together to self-schedule when they will be in the hospital and on call. This pulls the control out of hospital administration and into the (steady) hands of the doctors.
2. Flextime can function like other forms of flexible work.
Flextime can take other forms of flexibility.
If someone wants to telecommute, they can choose their hours to ensure that they are always being most productive at work and at home. Moreover, the idea of working from home doesn’t appeal to everyone, because they may feel they’re not productive at home (when the kids are throwing food at them while trying to work, for example).
Or consider unlimited vacation. Unlimited vacation has its downsides, as employees often end up actually taking less time off than they should. But with flextime, they can still have unlimited vacation—because they choose their own schedule. So they can choose not to work one week and make up those hours or results another week.
Moreover, flextime can work like a part-time job because you can work as many or as few hours as you’d like. It can function like job sharing, because two people can share the same role and flex when they want to work.
Flextime can be whatever arrangement you want it to be, because you’re putting the control in the hands of the worker.
3. It promotes the most controllable work-life balance.
Employees don’t want to put the balance of their lives in the hands of the employer. With flextime, workers schedule their own hours, so they can schedule work around their home life and vice versa. If their daughter has a soccer game on Tuesday nights, they can choose to pick up Wednesday nights instead. If they care for their mothers on Thursdays and Fridays, they can pick up extra shifts on Saturday.
Flextime is one of the most family-friendly policies in today’s job market. It also offers the most opportunities for people pursuing an education while working. Other flexible work options like telecommuting or unlimited vacation still give some control to the employer, which can leave workers in a bind if something comes up at home.
Flextime turns work-life balance into work-life integration.
4. Flextime promotes an entrepreneurial mindset.
Employees basically own their own business within your business. They choose when to work based on a variety of factors, including their home life and their projected outcomes for the day. They can schedule more flextime at work if they want to make more money and advance their careers—while still having a work-life balance.
When people have control over their schedules, they have control over their lives. This builds a “entrepreneurial mindset” that can improve the productivity of the individual and overall company.
5. Flextime encourages productivity.
People can choose when to work based on their productivity rhythms. If an employee tends to work better in the evening, they can schedule the night shift. This control of their own work life makes them more productive, engaged, and motivated.
6. Flextime is time efficient.
Flextime allows for control of personal situations, like family and productivity, as well as external ones like traffic and appointments.
Workers can schedule their lives in accordance with external factors, like commutes, traffic, or the bus schedule. They can schedule their work around doctor’s appointments, so they don’t have to take a day of vacation just to see if they have the flu. They can avoid rush hour and high congestion times in their area.
7. Flextime enhances the work environment.
All of these benefits together lead to happier, more engaged, and more motivated employees. Employees who control their own lives work harder and are more loyal. This leads to an increase in productivity and profits with a decrease in turnover and recruiting costs.
The Downsides Of Flextime
There are two concerns with flextime: customers and the law.
In any role, you need people available to customers and clients whenever the customers want it. Flextime, if not organized correctly, can leave gaps in customer service if there aren’t employees available.
However, this is usually easy to overcome with proper management. For customer-facing jobs or hourly work, hosting a wide talent pool ensures the shifts are always filled. The wider the talent pool, the more likely there will be someone available to self-schedule those hours. In fact, expanding your talent pool fixes almost every problem of staffing.
Moreover, there is still some uncertainty about flexible work in the eyes of the law. Without proper management, overtime and payment can get fuzzy.
With flextime, we often recommend a “clock in” method—even for salaried workers. This simply shows the employer when they’re working and how often. This isn’t to punish someone for not working a full 40 hours per week, though. Flextime doesn’t care about the time in the office.
In fact, if someone is only working 36 hours but meeting all of their goals, it shows that the individual is efficient and might be worthy of a promotion. This “clock in” method is there to protect the employee from overworking.
How To Make Flextime Work
- Clarify the goals of flextime. Why are you implementing this arrangement and what are the proposed benefits?
- Discuss the measurements for success. How will employees be evaluated on their performance under this new flextime arrangement?
- Define modes of communication. How will you schedule hours and ensure collaboration? How will individuals get in contact with one another when on different schedules?
- Discuss coverage. Are there certain shifts that need to be required or regulated based on busyness? How will you balance staffing and self-scheduling?
Ultimately, you need to build a strong company culture. In order for flextime to work, employees need to be onboard and help one another out. They should be willing cover one another’s shifts when life happens. They have to make a promise to their coworker, to the customers, and to the business.
The culture should encourage and reward work-life balance.
The Bottom Line
Flextime is the most flexible work option for the majority of individuals and organizations.
If you want to finally take control of your life and your work, you want flextime.
If you want to offer your employees the most productive and engaging solution, you want flextime.
If you want flextime, you want Forge.
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