Flexible working hours: Should business adopt or not?
A flexible work schedule allows an employee to work hours that differ from the normal time of a company. For normal time, those hours are generally from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or 9 a.m. –to 6 p.m. and moreover, total of 40-hour workweek. In past, flexibility has meant that an employee might work 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. every day which might give employee an extra hour in the morning in exchange for losing an hour in the afternoon. But, today’s employees demand more from their employers.
They require different options for flexible schedules that can change based on their need for flexibility in their lives. For example, an employee might want a flexible work schedule, not every day but on days when children have doctor’s appointments, when classrooms have parental helper opportunities, or when attending annual medical appointments for themselves. A flexible schedule is also dependent on employee capacity meet all job aspects and all hours of the day during which a company makes products or serves customers.
Flexible working hours can be a better way for your employees to find a better work life balance and as a result perform better and give best at work. It increasingly popular in today’s world. However, there are many business owners who do have concerns regarding benefits of flexible working. That’s why it’s necessary to understand if they are right for the business and employees.
Employer Expectations in a Flexible Working Environment
The employer expects a full-time employee to work the required hours or even more in all flexible schedules .A flexible schedule involves either a restrict workweek or flexible start and stop times.
For a compressed workweek, flexible schedule is a four day workweek in which employees work four to ten hour days. This allows employees to have an additional day for any activity which allows the employee more work life balance.
A daily flexible schedule allows employees to arrive at work early and go home early or stay late and arrive late or other way, take extra time at lunch that is made up. For example in this work schedule, employers may require that employees work hours, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Generally, in most of the flexible workplaces, employees come and go as they want when they want. They are responsible for performing overall job and achieving the goals as per their position. But, if they can achieve them with only 15-20 hours in the office and work rest of the time then it’s a plus point for them.
Finland: Leading world in Adjusting Flexible Working Hour
According to BBC, few companies in Finland go quite as far when it comes to accommodating employees. For more than two decades, flexible working is seen as a perk rather than a right in some countries like in Finland’s working culture because of Working Hours Act, passed in 1996, most staff has right to adjust the typical daily hours of their workplace by starting or finishing up to three hours earlier or later.
By the year 2011, Finland was offering the most flexible working schedules worldwide. According to a study for global accounting firm Grant Thornton, 92% of companies allowed employees to adapt their working hours, compared to 76% in the UK and the US, 50% in Russia and just 18% in Japan.
A recent reportby HSBC into the UK’s tech industry found out that 89% of respondents cited flexible working as a motivation for their productivity.
Similarly a study done by Stanford University economics professor Nicholas Bloom found out that more than 16,000 staff at a Chinese call center were allowed to work flexibly from home increasing their productivity by 13% and taking less sick leave. Meanwhile in 2016,a research done for US employee engagement firm called TINY pulse found that remote employees also felt happier and more valued than those in traditional office jobs.
Benefits of flexible working for employees
Do you prefer employees to sit at their desks where you can micro manage them or prefer to have more relaxed management style? If a company is committed to employees working mainly at their desk, then several business opportunities are missed out.
In the modernized digital world, technology has facilitated employees to share files globally, communicate via video conferencing with colleagues or clients and collaborate remotely, without distractions at work. It’s no longer the case where every employee needs to be in the office for fixed time period to be productive. There are cases, where managers are actively encouraging their employees to take benefits from flexible working hours. Here are several key benefits:
Many employees prefer to have flexible working hours, as a sign they are valued by the company. Those employees who have other responsibilities or work interests may take flexible working as an absolute necessity or a deal breaker for any company they work for. So, offering flexible working hours results in business benefits that may assist employee retention efforts.
2. Improved productivity.
There isn’t a magical outcome which says the best work is achieved between the hours of 9a.m. to 5pm. Even if asked to many CEO they will often believe that their best work is done outside of these hours. Different people work better at different time and by letting the employees decide, companies can see a significant change in productivity. It’s not always possible to choose when to work but if an employee ask if they can start earlier in order to finish earlier, then it is clear that they will get more work done because of it, then it’s an argument worth listening to.
3. Better work life balance.
Back in 2014, this was a big factor behind employees forcing Starbucks to change their scheduling policy. Employees want, and should have a good balanced work life. Being able to manage their work life allows them to perform to a higher standard at work. And happy employees are the more productive employees.
Moreover it is a big decision for any business as it leads to even stronger communication than normal and a large amount of trust between employee and employer. When it’s all done in right way then flexible working results to more motivated, engaged and productive employees.
4. Increased creativity
Happy, and motivated employees can make a valuable contribution to the company. Working in a different way can encourage employees to think outside the box and be more innovative and creative some employees may become more actively involved when they come into the workplace, and are more willing to create creative ideas which could be relate to work processes, ongoing projects related works or general working culture.
Beside the positive aspects of flexible working, there are son cons related to employees as well as employers.
Disadvantages for Employees
Employees who do well within a workplace may find it difficult to work when colleagues don’t follow the same schedule. Similarly, team involvement may require progressive planning and coordination of the employee scheduled workdays and hours. This is the reason why many employers require core days and core hours during which everyone is in the workplace.
There is no clear picture between work and home. When it is said flexible schedules, sometimes that means work all of the time. For instance, if your boss allows you the flexibility to go to your family function then the boss may not feel guilty about calling you at 9:30 p.m.
Disadvantages for Employers
Some managers, who are used to seeing their employees coming on mentioned time period may have trouble adjusting to the new management style as it requires trust. Also, in team oriented departments, teams need to have meetings which requires guidelines.
Some people do take benefit of the flexibility and ability to work from home. They might be distracted and difficult to focus on work and not the household chores or entertainment. Work oriented people sometimes view their work at home colleagues as not worthy because they can’t physically see their productivity. Employers struggle with fairness related problems when only certain employees can work remotely.
Overall, the benefit generally overcome the disadvantages and a good manager can handle the disadvantages in a better way. Flexible scheduling has become a part of what employees are looking for in employee benefits packages. Employees will love their employer if the employer will benefit from overall positive morale which is linked to increased productivity.
Should you offer employees a flexible working hours?
Now looking after the overall scenarios in terms of flexible working hours, the potential advantages for employees are well-known consisting of an improved work-life balance, greater autonomy and improved staff attitude and increased productivity.
Regardless to this, it is also important for employers to recognize the business benefits of flexible working too. It’s not employees who will gain from such initiatives, as organizations can also be benefited to reduce costs, improve output and increase loyalty when strategies are implemented in the right way. So at the end, when flexible working is used appropriately with the necessary level of adjustment from both employers and employees, it can be to advantages and win-win situation in both the scenarios.