Flexible working hours – more commonly known as flextime – are becoming more prevalent and popular as businesses continue to adjust to employee preferences – and in the case of the current pandemic situation – employee needs.

With flextime, employees are able to set their working schedules. A recent Business.com article titled,What Is Flextime, and Why Should You Offer It?offers a succinct overview:

“The guidelines around how flextime works typically vary depending on the company. For example, one company’s flextime might allow employees to choose their start and finish times each day, whereas another flextime policy might allow employees to choose between five eight-hour days and four 10-hour days. Additionally, flextime might involve the option to work remotely a certain number of days each week.” 

How do employees benefit from flextime? 

Employees value flextime benefits as they’re able to schedule work around their lifestyle and other demands on their time.

“We’ve been talking about work-life balance for years, which is really about hours worked. What I love about flextime is that it opens the door to better work-life integration,” says Todd Brook, Engagement Multiplier’s chief solutions officer.

Flextime enables better work-life integration in a number of important areas, including an employee’s well being, personal growth, and adapting to changing circumstances.

  • Personal well being – Simply giving employees more control over their daily schedules can make a world of difference in terms of their health and fitness, enabling them to attend classes or get in a workout they may not have been able to manage otherwise.
  • Professional development – Flextime enables employees to fit college, professional certification, or continuing education courses into their schedule that a traditional 9-5 day may not allow. Professional development is a primary driver of employee engagement, and offering flextime as a means to help employees pursue their goals can be a powerfully positive benefit that, in most cases, costs little for the employee to offer.
  • Balancing life and other challenges – For people juggling multiple schedules, such as parents with school-age children, people who ride-share, or employees who have other commitments outside of work, flextime can be a godsend.

“Flextime is increasingly common as companies strive to help employees manage unique challenges posed by the COVID pandemic, such as sharing workspace in the home with others and keeping an eye on children who are learning remotely,” Brook notes.

How do employers benefit from offering flextime? 

For employers, being able to offer flextime can open up a candidate pool for high-demand roles they may otherwise not have had access to because of demands on the candidates’ time.

“It gives you a level of differentiation, and you can end up with incredible, high-performing, and loyal employees,” Brook says.

Offering employees flextime can ultimately improve the performance, retention, and loyalty of team members because you’re able to offer them a balance that enables them to perform at their best, within their preferred schedule.

What are the potential disadvantages of offering flextime?

Implementing flextime does require some foresight. It can be more difficult to maintain culture when different groups of people are working different hours. Additionally, offering flexible working hours can also create additional complexity for the organization. If you start offering it to everyone, for example, you’ll have to start figuring out how to balance schedules and times.

“You’ll need to be thinking about what the hour pools look like,” cautions Brook. “Who will be collaborating with who and when? You want to be sure there is some overlap to ensure employees can have some face time together. Employees need to feel a part of something, and you’ll want to limit the risk of isolation.”

Flextime can get in the way of collaboration for roles that are highly dependent upon others.

How do you implement flextime for your company?

The good news is that you can avoid the aforementioned pitfalls when you implement flexible working hours by creating some framework and structure so it’s predictable for employees and managers.

“Flextime is not an excuse to change your hours each day based, or randomly lock down your time,” notes Brook. “It has to be more intentional. This is an expectation you will need to set.”

Secondly, determine whether there are any non-negotiable periods during which people need to be available, such as weekly meetings, or during specific events, such as an IT deployment or particularly busy times for your business.

Finally, be sure to set clear expectations for response times; how, when, and where communications occur; what to do when something isn’t working, and most importantly – clear performance metrics. Clear accountabilities are crucial.

If you set clear expectations and have some basic structure for a flexible hours policy, it can be a great way to give employees a benefit they value, create the kind of autonomy and flexibility that drive engagement, create a point of differentiation for job candidates, and inspire loyalty from your team.