Digital technology empowers employees to work from anywhere. Cloud computing makes it simple to collaborate over long distances using computers, tablets, and smartphones. If you have smartphone coverage, you can access your secure website and all the data stored in the “back office.”
Employees no longer have to fight traffic, get the suit out of the dry cleaners, or engage in office politics. Flex time is being offered by companies because of the positive impact flexibility has in retaining key employees.
Flex time can come in different forms:
- Two people share one job, one working the morning shift, the other working through the afternoon.
- Employees put in extra hours Monday through Thursday to earn a three-day weekend.
- Employees work from the office, from home, or waiting for the school bus to arrive. Work is no longer a place, it’s an activity that any employee can undertake from a remote location.
It’s a major shift in the way business conducts business, and there are pros and cons to flex time in the workplace – the kind of things small business owners must weigh carefully before initiating a flex time workplace model.
The Upside to Flextime*
Most employees like flextime, especially when it is indeed flexible. Flex time can put individuals in control of their work lives and personal lives.
Flexible hours have become reality in the workplace. The trend will continue and, in the future, you may find quality prospects and quality employees actually expect flex time – not as an added benefit but as smart business.
Flex time attracts more qualified employees. Flex time is a great benefit to offer valued employees, or to attract the best individual to fill that critical role in your business. Be sure to mention the flex time arrangement you have in mind before you start looking for a new teammate.
Flex time can boost company productivity. Some of us are morning people, some afternoon people, and some night owls. Boost your productivity be allowing your employees to schedule their work during their individual “most productive” times of the day.
An employee who doesn’t have to battle a two-hour traffic jam because he works from home is more productive – and a whole lot less frustrated. Tele-commuting makes it easy to get to work. It’s in the next room!
Schedule employee hours to fit the peak demand times of your business. If the phone starts ringing at 6:00 in the morning, somebody – a human – should answer the phone.
Today, even very small companies often have a global presence and a market that never sleeps. Arrange schedules to suit the needs of your company, and accommodate employees whenever possible with flex time.
Make the commute easier. Let employees get to work an hour later, then stay an hour later at the end of the day. This way, your staff doesn’t come to work tired, frustrated, and distracted by another traffic jam.
The Downside of Flex Time
Now that flex time has undergone various analyses by in-house and opinion polling organizations, the downside of flex time has become clearer. Hard data indicate that flex time isn’t for every employee or every employer. What works for one business could be a catastrophe for another.
Setting flex schedules is time consuming. You may find that HR is always running tight because your HR personnel are busy accommodating flex schedules that can change quickly – and often.
It can complicate daily operations. If there’s an important meeting scheduled, employees may have to report to work during down times – and that can be a morale crusher.
Continuity may suffer. Two employees share the same job. One starts a project; the second completes the project. However, there may be inconsistencies and delays as both job sharers coordinate their efforts.
You may lose that sense of “family.” Most of us like interacting with co-workers. We make friends at work, and more than one marriage started in the workplace. When employees are coming and going, that sense of unity and togetherness may disappear, right along with your bookkeeper who’s gone Wednesday afternoons during high school soccer season.
Making It Work for You
Maintaining employee morale often requires clear communication, clearly defined outcomes and a lock-tight schedule. Your staff may have to develop new written policies to accommodate flex time employees. Make sure everything is clearly spelled out before making the switch to flex time.
You may also want to run your flex time program past the company’s legal counsel to make sure it complies with all labor laws.
Before your company institutes a flex time policy, solicit input from employees, vendors, sub-contractors and others with a stake in the smooth operation of your business.
As the owner or manager of the company, your first responsibility is to do what’s best for the business. However, offering flex time is an attractive benefit that more and more of your competitors may offer.
If you want the best team in your workplace, consider developing different flex time options, from tele-commuting to job sharing. It’s a growing trend because it works.
*Click here for more information on the benefits of flextime.
The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of ZB, N.A.