The modern work environment has throw several interesting trends in the mix over the past decade. And we might attempt to fit the idea of a flexible work schedule in with those. However, the truth is that the history of the flexible work schedule extends back at least to the 1930s. Of course, the trend might be gaining more traction now, especially in the post-covid wake. But some businesses remain hesitant to implement such policies.
Naturally, whether your company determines to offer flex time to employees depends on a host of important factors. Not least among them stands the fact that some jobs simply cannot happen on a flexible schedule. But for those which could, it helps to assess the pros and cons. So, we’ve drafted a few of each to consider if you’re sitting on the fence about the flexible work schedule.
Some Pros of a Flexible Work Schedule
1. Employees Have Greater Autonomy
Of course, the natural outcome of a flexible work schedule is the ability to take greater charge of one’s work. This sort of job autonomy in and of itself benefits both employers and employees alike. Because when workers feel they have a sense of control over their tasks and how they accomplish them, they become more motivated. Moreover, from that motivation stems productivity and, overall, profitability. So, to a certain extent, flex time ends up a win-win scenario for companies and employees.
2. Taking Ownership of Tasks
When people feel disconnected from the tasks they perform at work, they often fail to perform them well. And this results in sub-par products or services that lack quality or expertise. Contrastingly, whenever employees take ownership of their work, it shows. After all, workers are far more apt to care about things they’ve “made their own” than those which corporate overlords have commanded.
Installing a flexible work schedule is one way employers can help provide a sense of personal ownership over work tasks. Because it affords employees the chance to determine how they work and when to do it. So, even if individuals perform the same tasks they have for years, the ability to decide those aspects for themselves provide a breath of fresh air.
3. Provides a Great Recruitment Tool
Naturally, people tend to gravitate toward workplaces that provide great benefits and opportunities. So, if a company offers flex time from the start, it becomes an attractive tool for recruiting top talent. This further strengthens the organization as a whole, positioning it for a productive future. So, in this and many other ways, flexible work tends to benefit the employer as much as the employee.
4. Increases Job Satisfaction
One costly expense businesses often deal with is turnover. In fact, hiring a new employee costs somewhere around $4,000. So, employers who experience constant turnover end up losing quite a bit of money in the process. The obvious response to that sort of situation is increasing retention. But knowing how to do so isn’t always clear. Fortunately, we can tell you that implementing a flexible work schedule could reduce turnover by as much as 87%.
Since this work style allows individuals to determine aspects of their work, it increases their overall job satisfaction. Resultingly, they become more willing to stick with the employer, even through difficult times. Of course, this sort of employee loyalty ends up saving organizations money. But it also decreases time wasted trying to find new workers to fill holes as often.
5. Boosts Employee Productivity
Perhaps you could infer this benefit from the others. But we still want to mention it. Implementing a flexible work schedule has the potential to boost employee productivity. Because when workers have the opportunity to decide how to work, they can do so in ways that work best for them. Naturally, some might take advantage of this chance. But overall, it tends to lead to greater efficiency and quality results.
Different people work best in varying conditions, and this can depend on many personal and professional factors. So, allowing individuals to set themselves up for success in turn helps the company at large find greater success.
Several Cons of a Flexible Work Schedule
1. Difficulty Scheduling Meetings
One of the first cons teams often run up against with flex time is scheduling meetings. After all, when employees become responsible for setting their own schedules, some work strange hours – even overnight. Other times, personal commitments or responsibilities might keep people from being able to meet at certain times. So, sometimes a policy of flex time interferes with team productivity. And inevitably, someone has to bend on their preferred work schedule to make sure meetings happen appropriately.
2. Difficulty Communicating Efficiently
Following closely on the heels of meeting difficulties, flex time can also lead to communication deficiency. After all, when workers keep the same schedule, they generally expect to hear back with important information quickly. However, when a day worker requires needs to hear from a night worker, they could end up having to wait a full work day. That severely limits the expediency of communication. And unfortunately, this can sometimes cost the organization potential opportunities.
3. Breaks the Work/Home Boundary
Often, a flexible work schedule includes the option to perform job tasks remotely. And while there are many benefits of remote work, it can erode the boundary between work and personal life. So, individuals have to be careful to keep a clear separation between the two realms. Otherwise, they could feel like they’re constantly on the clock with small breaks in between. Unfortunately, this could further descend into work anxiety and burnout.
4. Causes Feelings of Isolation
During COVID, when working from home became mandatory, many employees expressed feelings of isolation. And sometimes, because flex work implies remote work, that same isolation can creep in. This can also break down communication, productivity, and other aspects that flex time generally improves. So, employees who tend toward feeling isolated at home need to set up certain safeguards to combat these emotions. Otherwise, a flexible work schedule could become more a hinderance than a help.
5. Longer Working Hours
It’s great to take off in the middle of the day to catch up with a friend over coffee. But depending on the employer, you’ll likely have to make that time up later in the day. Of course, this cuts into time with family and prevents you from getting other tasks done around home. So, instead of a simple nine-to-five schedule, your work day evolves into three different sprints. Early morning, mid-afternoon, and late night. This type of schedule works well for some people. However, others who don’t thrive with that setup often get caught in the web.
The Verdict On a Flexible Work Schedule
Ultimately, we think the benefits of keeping a flexible work schedule far outweigh the negative aspects. But because there are potential pitfalls that could cause company and employee to suffer alike, care is needed. So long as certain safeguards exist to prevent burnout, anxiety and feelings of isolation, responsible workers should be fine. Sometimes, it makes sense to implement flex work for some employees and not others. But companies have to strive to balance their needs with those of employees. At the end of the day, finding an arrangement that can do that may mean the difference between success and failure.
If you’re curious about other work benefits and ways to motivate employees, be sure to check out our Human Resources courses. They cover everything from hiring and retention to employee needs. And since different organizations certify them, business professionals can earn continuing education credit at the same time.
Article written by Braden Norwood
Last updated March 23, 2023