The Benefits of a Flexible Work SchedulePublié le 12 March 2020
“Working 9 to 5, what a way to make a living.” – Dolly Parton
Work schedules have become fixed in the minds of employees and employers alike. The image of office workers punching in at 9:00 AM and heading out the door at 5:00 PM has become so culturally ingrained that there’s even a hit song (and movie) about it. This traditionalist way of thinking has resulted in a daily schedule that seems all but permanent. Such a mindset, however must be open to adaptation as the needs of a modern workforce begin to change. For this reason, many companies are now considering the benefits of a flexible work schedule, making it one of the top HR trends of 2020.
Many workplaces in all types of industries and sectors have begun to implement flexible work schedules for employees. Rather than having a strict entrance and exit time for all employees, a flexible schedule allows workers to determine for themselves what time their day starts and ends – as long as they work the total amount of hours agreed upon in their contract. While this seems to fly in the face of decades of accumulated business wisdom, there are actually multiple benefits to be gained by adapting a flexible work schedule.
Benefits for Employees
In a business culture that is becoming increasingly reliant on quantifiable numbers and data, it is important to never lose sight of the fact that employees are unique and independent people with fully realized lives outside of the office. A flexible work schedule will be a huge assist to employees, providing them with the opportunity to fulfil responsibilities, avoid daily gridlock and maintain a sense of control over their work/life balance.
Meeting Family Responsibilities
Life can get complicated with no warning. Kids can get sick, appointments can be rescheduled and a whole range of important family issues can come up at the last possible second. The thought of having a limited time to put out so many fires in one’s personal life will undoubtedly affect work performance. Forcing someone to choose between attending to their family and being seated at their desk at 9:00 AM is unfair and unnecessary.
A flexible work schedule does not force employees to choose between the two. They can make that early morning doctor’s appointment and start work at a slightly later time without harming productivity or the quality of their work. To an employee, the knowledge that they can leave early to deal with an emergency and make up the time the following day will feel almost invaluable.
Avoiding Traffic Congestion
Similar to the fixed 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM schedule itself, the bumper to bumper gridlock that bookends a day at the office is also an ingrained part of business culture. Traffic congestion is not just frustrating for drivers, but also wrecks havoc on the environment and costs commuters in the city of Toronto alone over $3.3 billion in a single year. This is a result of added fuel costs and loss of time spent idling on the highway.
A flexible work schedule will provide employees with the chance to avoid the worst of traffic congestion on their daily commute. By starting at either an earlier or a later hour, they will no longer have to spend long periods of time they will never get back sitting in traffic every week, leading to an improved work/life balance and often a jumpstart on their day.
A Sense of Control
The desire to be in control of one’s own life is universal. As noted by psychologists, preserving a personal amount of control helps people maintain strong emotional and mental health. Within the business world, there is obviously a hierarchy to decision making and while there are strong benefits to being open the ideas of employees, this is not likely to change.
By adopting a flexible work schedule at the office, it returns an element of control to employees. Having the power over when the work day begins and ends will allow employees to maintain a sense of independence and individualism. This decreases the chances that they will see themselves an interchangeable cog in the corporate machine, and feel more like part of team working together.
Benefits for Employers
A number of businesses have been resistant to the adaptation of flexible schedules. There is a fear that a lack of constant supervision could lead to a loss of both office cohesion and productivity. In fact, flexible scheduling also offers several benefits to employers, such as avoiding burnout in the workforce, an advantage in the recruitment process and a documented increase in productivity.
Avoiding Potential Burnout
Company leaders want to get the most out of their employees. With the unrelenting pace of the modern business world stressing the importance of delivering quality work at exponentially quicker paces, the risk of employee burnout is very real. One survey found that 44% of employees reported feeling burnt out at least some of time, a number that is far too high.
Business should constantly be on the lookout for ways to reduce employee stress and maintain an energetic workforce. Providing a flexible work schedule will dramatically decrease the chance of burnout among the workforce due to increased personal control and reduced unnecessary pressure. In the long run, this will result in a lower turnover rate,reduce the need to spend time and resources to train new employees and potentially increase a company’s bottom line.
An Increase in Productivity
One of the main reasons businesses have been averse to adopting a flexible work schedule is that it is perceived as an opportunity to lose productivity. They fear that not having all employees working during the same period under supervision will result in less work getting completed. In fact, the majority of studies indicate that the opposite is true.
It would be easy to attribute these results to the increased employee motivation that comes from flexible schedule. In fact, a large factor is the decrease in the amount of productive hours that are lost due to other responsibilities. If an employee has an appointment scheduled for 3:00 PM, they will leave early or even take an entire day off, and the company will lose hours of productivity. Under a flexible schedule, the employee will simply start earlier or make up this time on another day, and result in no productivity loss for the company.
An Advantage in Recruitment
As noted earlier, recent HR trends favour the shift of power during the recruitment process towards the applicant. With a generational change currently occurring among the workforce, companies need to adapt in order to appeal to the best recruits. Company culture and work/life balance are now much more important factors that young employees take into consideration when entering the workforce. These factors extend to the office schedule.
Flexible scheduling can give a company a demonstrable advantage during the recruitment process. It speaks to a larger emphasis placed on developing a strong company culture, one based on trust and appreciation for the worker. This will greatly improve the chances retaining good employees and will help to get the best out of every worker.
A flexible work schedule has many benefits to employees and employers alike. It is tangible proof that a company is willing to focus on the needs of their workers, and build a company culture which supports them while on the job. Employees, in turn, will feel trusted and valued by their company, inspiring them to put forth their best effort and become strong team members. All it takes is a company willing to look beyond traditional, and outdated, ways of thinking and offer their employees a flexible work schedule.