Flexible work schedules are gaining in popularity, and it’s likely that more and more companies will continue to start offering more flexibility in some form or another. Of course, there isn’t just one type of “flexible working” situation – it can take many forms, including remote telecommuting; flexible schedules like four 10-hour shifts per week; or alternative daily schedules with different start and end times than the traditional 9 to 5. Should your organization start accommodating flexible working schedules in some capacity? Weigh the pros and cons for yourself.
Pros to Flexible Work:
Better Work-Life Balance
Flexible work helps employees achieve a better work-life balance by making it possible for them to tend to their personal lives. With 82% of telecommuters reporting lower stress levels, flexible work can free up your employees to reduce the stress in their lives so that they are better able to focus at work. This stat makes sense when considering the fact that the average American spends about 4.35 hours per week commuting to and from work.
It Could Improve Gender Parity in the Workplace
Several studies over the years have found that when searching for a new job, women prioritize flexible work and work-life balance more than men. This is likely because women continue to bear most of the burden of childcare and household labor, even while working full time jobs. This also makes it more likely that women might choose to leave the workplace for some time, restraining their earning potential. Flexible work options make it easier for both men and women to tend to their family obligations, easing the burden off of women and giving them an equal opportunity to advance their careers.
Millennials Want (And Expect) Flexible Work Options
When it comes to attracting great candidates, it’s important to keep in mind what job seekers want so that your company can remain competitive in today’s tight labor market. Millennials now make up the majority of the workforce, and their priorities may come to shape modern work schedules. According to one report, 45% of millennials would choose workplace flexibility over pay when selecting their next job opportunity; according to another report, 77% of millennials said that flexible work hours would make them more productive. If you want to attract and retain top talent in today’s hiring landscape, flexible work is one way to catch the attention of great candidates.
Better Job Satisfaction
Millennials aren’t just asking for flexible work hours out of the blue. Flexible work hours are directly tied to job satisfaction, which is something any employee should want. When job satisfaction is high, you can expect your employees to be more productive and enthusiastic contributors to your bottom line.
Employee Retention Goes Up
If flexible work schedules help to improve job satisfaction, it makes perfect sense that it would also improve employee retention over time. If your employees are struggling to maintain a work-life balance at home, it’s likely that they’ll eventually seek out another job opportunity, regardless of how much they’re being paid or the types of benefits they’re receiving. As you can probably tell, most of these pros to flex schedules are interlinked, each working together to improve the employee experience and, by extension, improving employee performance and productivity.
Cons to Flexible Work:
Lack of Trust or Accountability
This is one of the most common reservations companies have when it comes to adopting flexible work policies, especially when it comes to working remotely. Employers worry that if an employee is left to work at home without supervision, they can’t be trusted to get their work done, or they may spend too much time doing non-work-related tasks, whether it’s catching a Netflix show or simply doing chores around the home.
This can be partially resolved if employees have certain tasks or deliverables they must complete, regardless of whether they are at home or in the office. Their job is to meet those deadlines regardless of what schedule they use to get it done.
If some of your staff is working at home, while another part of your staff has irregular hours, it can sometimes to be difficult to set meeting times or communicate properly with everyone on the team. While there is some merit to this concern, much of it can be resolved by leveraging many of the popular tools designed to improve communications in the workplace, like Zoom, Skype, Slack, and any number of project management tools. To make these work for your organization, you need to get everyone to commit to using the same platform, and then hold people accountable to be responsive while they’re working, whether they’re physically in the office or not.
Loss of Company Culture or Camaraderie
An argument can be made that flexible work schedules can take away from some of the camaraderie that is built up over time between employees working the same traditional 9 to 5 schedules. This has the potential to be true if the company makes no effort to integrate employees with the company. To keep a strong company culture going, organizations can require their employees to attend all important meetings, whether that’s remotely or in the office, and for any major events that pop up, remote employees could be flown in for the day. These measures don’t necessarily make up for the lack of cohesion that might be felt across the team, but when it comes to offering flexible work schedules, the pro of higher overall job satisfaction may outweigh the con of a slight impact on company culture.