Implementing a Flexible Work Schedule for Employees

In the past, flexible work arrangements were associated with progressive workplaces or for those employing freelancers and contractors. With the largescale shift to working from home, it has become more than a trend. Flexibility is becoming a standard part of an employee’s schedule.

Employers may implement flexible work arrangements for several reasons, however, reducing the costs associated with having employees in a physical workspace is one of the most significant ones. Offering potential candidates an attractive work-life balance also plays an important role in the recruitment process. It provides employees with freedom, while still maintaining the level of performance required to complete tasks associated with their role. For small businesses, implementing a flexible work schedule can make up for an inability to provide the same compensation that larger businesses can offer. If you’re looking to offer your employees flexible work arrangement options, we have some ideas to help you get started.

Is Your Organization Prepared to Implement Flexible Work Arrangements?

Simply sending your employees home with a laptop may not result in a successful flexible work arrangement experience. They may need a suite of tools and approved direction. There are three steps your organization could implement to achieve an effective flex-work environment.

  1. Create a Plan

A formal policy can ensure employees and organizations both enjoy the benefits of a flexible work arrangement. As part of this plan, be sure to review current business systems and processes. Will available tools like Microsoft Office and Zoom be sufficient for employees who work off-site? Can they still obtain project approvals and collaborate effectively when not face-to-face with colleagues? These are questions that need answers before approving a company-wide plan.

Although case-by-case arrangements are inevitable, organizations should move towards creating one standard policy that covers all employees.

  1. Pilot your Plan

Flexible work arrangements aren’t for everyone. Some people might operate better while in the physical presence of co-workers, while others might thrive in the quiet atmosphere of a home office. Before implementing a company-wide policy on flexible work arrangements, try it out with a few employees from different departments. After the pilot program, analyze the pros and cons of the experience.

  1. Utilize Technology

Collaborative technology has come a long way. Thanks to tools like Microsoft SharePoint, Google Drive and Zoom, being physically present for a meeting may no longer be required. You can even simultaneously work on documents with your co-workers while being in different locations. These tools are helpful  in creating a collaborative environment that maintains a similar company culture.

Read More: The Most Convenient Virtual Collaboration Tools

What are the Benefits of Flexible Work Schedules?

The benefits of a flexible work schedule are abundant for employers and employees alike. For employees, this could mean choosing where and when they work. For employers, it could mean cost savings, greener practices, and the recruitment of top-tier talent. Here are a few examples of how employers may benefit from granting their employees some extra freedom.

Employee retention: The hiring process is time-consuming and expensive. Retaining your employees and hiring top talent can be aided by offering them flexible work options. This may be more enticing to them than other perks like enrollment into discount programs or free monthly lunches.

Hire from a larger pool: If you can offer remote work arrangements, you can expand your pool of candidates to include other regions around the country (or the world). Though it will require more filtering, it may provide you with a better fit for your organization.

Improved productivity:  When you allow employees to work a flexible schedule, managers may need to shift more predominately to evaluating output and quality of work, rather than timely presence in a physical space. This results-oriented culture, combined with flexible practices, can result in more productive output.

Cost-efficiency: When employees work from home, that could mean less time commuting, ultimately reducing their carbon footprint. Savings at the pump will be appreciated too. It can also mean savings on lunches and other necessities like the purchase and upkeep of workplace attire. 

For employers, having a reduced in-person staff can offer up the chance to use fewer utilities like water and electricity. Depending on the situation, downsizing the workspace may also be an option for added cost savings.

Five Flexible Work Arrangements that Maintain Productivity

  1. Remote Workdays: Working from home is the cornerstone of a flexible work arrangement. It is becoming an increasingly popular trend across North America. According to Statistics Canada, the beginning of 2021 saw 32% of Canadian employees aged 15 to 69 working most of their hours from home, compared to just 4% in 2016. Will these numbers be sustained? It certainly seems that way. In research conducted by McKisney and Company, it is expected that between 20 and 25 percent of the workforces in advanced economies will continue to work remotely, three to five days a week, even after COVID-19 restrictions are permanently lifted. If you’re hesitant about going fully remote, consider a hybrid option, which would require an employee to work a certain number of days in a physical workspace, with the remainder from home (or their location of choice). 
  2. Flexible Work Hours: Ditch the 9-5. Or at least offer a few other options.Employers can offer a choice of three (or more) working time slots (ex. 7-3, 9-5, 10-6). Staggered start times can be helpful for parents with young children and those who function better later in the day. 
  3. Compressed Work Weeks: Embrace a 4-day work week!Employers can implement flex time via an hour-based system. So, if an employee is expected to work 40 hours a week, they can work 10 hours a day for four days instead, taking the additional weekday off.

    Also, consider a ‘Summer Fridays’ program. This initiative would give employees each Friday in the summer a half-day or full day off. If that presents a burden, you can implement this on Fridays before a long weekend only. 

  4. Part-Time Work: You may transition an employee from full-time to part-time hours. This scenario can work in several ways, but a couple of examples include:
  • Working less than five days a week (ex. three days at 8 hours a day)
  • Working five days a week at fewer hours (ex. five days at 4 hours a day)

This scenario may require employees to accept a demotion that can include a reduction in pay and benefits. 

  1. Job Sharing: If many employees are interested in part-time work, employers should consider job sharing. This scenario involves hiring or assigning two or more individuals to split the duties of one role. This can also relieve employees of the stress associated with mentally taxing positions.

Flexible work options have become standard issue in many modern workplaces. If you haven’t shared similar policies with your employees, what are you waiting for? In addition to a more positive experience for employees, employers can also benefit from cost savings, greener practices and improved production.