Flextime: Definition, Types, Benefits, and Best Practices

Flextime is quickly rising in popularity in many companies. This way of working has been known since 1970s but has begun gaining traction in the last few years. It has become one of those buzzwords used to attract a younger workforce, and more and more employers are seeing its benefits and flaws.

If you want to learn more about flextime and see whether it would fit your company’s culture, you’re in the right place. This article is going to explain everything an employer needs to know about this practice.

What Is Flextime?

It is well known that people have different work rhythms. Many workplaces have realized this and are encouraging their employees to practice time blocking or other methods that will allow the employees to follow their rhythms. Flextime encapsulates many of these practices, albeit taking this approach a step further, most often reducing the time the employees spend in offices.

The most common examples of flextime include

  • Flexible working hours
  • Flexible and condensed workweeks
  • Remote work
  • Telecommuting
  • Part-time work
  • Job sharing
  • Compensatory time
  • Flexible vacation time

Flexible Working Hours

Flextime most often refers to the business practice of allowing your employees to start and end their workday at different times. The number of hours doesn’t change in most cases, and neither does the amount of required work. So you may be wondering why introduce this practice in the first place.

There are many companies that allow ‘’sliding’’ working hours. This means setting up the earliest and latest points in the day when an employee can start working. The workdays start when the employee clocks in and last the usual amount.

Most people’s first thought when it comes to working hours is 9 to 5. These eight hours have become the staple of the modern workplace. However, this time frame has nothing to do with following a person’s optimal work rhythm. On one hand, many people aren’t fully awake by nine AM and need quite some time to start working. Others, on the other hand, want to start their workdays as early as possible and dedicate the rest of their day to other activities.

Both cases can greatly benefit from sliding working hours. The ‘’morning people’’ will be able to get in earlier and have their free time. In contrast, the employees who like to sleep in will be able to do so, have their coffee, exercise, or simply take some more time to wake up while still handling their tasks.

Adapting the Workweek

Again, we are starting with the usual understanding of the workweek. The most common type of workweek accounts for 5 days of work and two days of rest. Flextime challenges the efficiency of this arrangement and offers different solutions.

Condensed Workweek

A condensed workweek means the employees will be working for 4 days with a long weekend each week. Usually, this means having Fridays off, but other possibilities are available as well. While some companies have the means to reduce the total number of working hours per week, others can’t afford this luxury. In the latter case, the working hours from the fifth workday (i.e. Friday) are divided among the other 4 days. This means that, if we are looking at a standard 40-hour workweek, your employees will be working for 10 hours Monday through Thursday.

That is to say, this isn’t a realistic option if the nature of your business doesn’t allow for longer shifts. If you are considering implementing this practice, it will probably have to be partial, as some employees cannot work for ten hours a day and remain productive.

Flexible Workweek

Merging workweeks is another option when it comes to adapting the workweek to suit your employees better. This practice means having your employees work for ten days followed by four days off. This is a system that works best for manual labor field teams, as the employees will be able to rest and spend enough time with their families even though they may be working very far from home.

As you can imagine, there are other ways to adapt to the workweek. If you are in an industry that could benefit from this type of flextime, you should conduct a pilot program with a smaller team and see which option suits your business best.

Remote Work

Many business owners have realized the benefits of working with remote teams. Remote work refers to the employees working from their homes full-time. That is to say, these employees are never or almost never at the offices.

The biggest benefit of having a remote team is the talent pool. If you open your business to remote employees, their location becomes completely irrelevant. They can work from the comfort of their homes, while you can choose the most competent candidates. Many successful remote teams are international as well since video conferencing software enables quick and easy communication among team members.

Telecommuting

Telecommuting is the combination of in-office and remote work. Telecommuting employees often work for a set number of days from the office or home. That is to say, they must live locally to be able to travel to the offices. The ideal ratio for maximum productivity when telecommuting is 2:3 days, be it in favor of working remotely or from the office.

Telecommuting is a positive practice as it allows the freedom of remote work and the structure of in-office hours as well. Studies have shown that remote work causes greater productivity, but faces the problem of communication since most famous work platforms that offer communication tools rely heavily on chat. Telecommuting resolves this issue, as it provides managers and business owners with the opportunity to directly communicate with their employees.

Part-time Work

Some positions don’t require an 8-hour or everyday shift. This is where part-time work comes in handy. Simply put, you can find an employee (most often these are students) who has a limited time frame in which they can work.

Some people have different tasks during their days. This could be studying, taking care of a child or sick family member, or working at another company. Still, these individuals need an (additional) source of income. These people can be a great addition to your team if their schedules fit in with the requirements of the positions.

Job Sharing

Job sharing is one of the oldest types of flextime. It consists of two or more part-time employees sharing a single full-time job. Even though the practice is old, it doesn’t fit all businesses and positions. However, it can work splendidly if the industry and the specific position allow it. Another demand for job sharing is good communication among the employees doing the job.

Same as part-time work, job sharing doesn’t require the employer to provide most of the benefits full-time employees have. The downside of both of these flextime options is that the managers still have to keep their eye on more people, which tends to make things more complicated.

Compensatory Time

The nature of some professions requires the employees to work overtime or come to the offices during their free days. For example, this is common for accounting firms during the end of fiscal periods, or retail stores during the holiday season. That is to say, the time in which overtime is necessary is limited.

This means that the employer will have to compensate their employees in some way. Most overtime regulations call for an increased fee for the work done outside of the regular work hours. Yet, some companies decide to give their employees compensatory time off. This means that the employees can take time off or work shorter shifts due to the increase in their hours.

Flexible Vacation Time

A larger amount of paid time off is a great incentive for the employees as well as potential job candidates. Some companies have decided to include more, or even unlimited PTO as long as all tasks are done in time. In other words, the number of hours worked is secondary to quality and punctuality. Of course, not all businesses are ready for this step, and its effects are yet to be examined in detail.

The Benefits of Flextime

As you can see, flextime comes in many variations. Some companies offer many benefits akin to the ones we’ve described in an attempt to attract new employees. This is especially prominent with new teams and startups, as they haven’t yet established a 9 to 5 routine. However, even the businesses with a more traditional approach have been using some of these tactics.

Remote work has been extremely widespread in the last two years due to the pandemic. Even the strictest companies had to find a way to keep operating in the new climate. However, many of them have noticed an increase in productivity when their teams started working remotely. This helped create more opportunities for different forms of flextime. Here are just some of the benefits of allowing a more flexible working schedule, for employees and business owners alike.

The Importance of Balance

Work-life balance has become one of the biggest issues in the modern office. To put it plainly, between commuting, strict work hour schedules, and overtime, many people can’t manage to tend to their personal business. This significantly impacts their leisure time as well.

Having more time for your family, friends, and hobbies means more time to recharge. A person who, for example, doesn’t have to commute for an hour and a half twice a day, can use that time to get out, exercise, take care of their children (and be there for their important milestones), etc. In other words, this flextime is a great way to enable your employees to have all the special moments with the people they love and activities they enjoy. This clearly shows the employees you care about them.

Health Is Wealth

Different flextime options can accommodate different needs. That is why many candidates just entering the workforce are looking for a workplace that allows remote work or telecommuting. A flexible work schedule allows the employees to make different appointments and handle their personal matters without having to ask for days off, for example.

Additionally, if a person is kept busy by their work for too long, overworking and burnout are bound to take over. This means the employee who was otherwise healthy and productive can become unmotivated and even have problems managing their basic needs, let alone be an exemplary employee.

The short-term health benefits of flextime include

  • Reducing the time spent in an uncomfortable position
  • Reducing the stress of deadlines
  • Reducing the stress coming from driving or using the public transit
  • More time to exercise, go to a healthcare provider and prepare healthy meals

A Chance to Grow

Advancing in a career requires developing new skills, proving yourself in a leadership role, showing organizational capability. It also means denying yourself sleep, leisure time, and a great degree of commitment. Flextime allows employees both to prove themselves in their field, but also some additional free time, as well as time to take courses and develop the skills they need to.

We have to note that full-time remote work reduces the chances of being promoted. This is the case due to the fact that the higher-ups aren’t seeing the employee, so when the time comes to give the promotion, the person gets overlooked as well, no matter their skill level. That is to say – telecommuting is a better option than remote work. It is also important for employers not to pass up the chance to give a promotion to the most deserving person, no matter where and when they work.

From the Employer’s Perspective

All the benefits the employees receive reflect on their relationship with work and the company. It has been proven again and again that satisfied employees are more likely to stay with the company longer and get invested. If an employee’s needs are being met, they will consider the company’s successes to be proof of their own work and worth as an employee.

Happy employees will usually think harder about leaving their place of work. Simply put – flextime options show that you care about the people who make up your team, and they are far less likely to leave your organization. This way the team you’ve created will continue to function. Employee retention is a key component of a company’s reputation with new employees as well. Additionally, not having to constantly seek, hire, and train new employees is going to reduce the company’s costs.

Attract the Dream Employees

The market in most industries is becoming more and more competitive, and businesses are looking for a way to attract new employees and industry veterans alike. A company that cares about its employees attracts experts. After all, who wouldn’t want to be a part of a team that offers a lot of flexibility and supports its employees in their professional and personal lives and development?

As we have already mentioned, offering remote positions is a great way to attract the younger population, as they are more likely to look for such an arrangement in the first place. Furthermore, attracting industry experts who aren’t located close to your business, or even don’t live in your country is a great way to stay a step ahead of the competition.

Productivity Will Bloom

Working intensely at times your circadian rhythm allows best focus will increase productivity while reducing stress and the time needed for different tasks. in other words, your team won’t necessarily have to work harder, but the overall efficiency will increase, as everyone will be able to use their prime working hours to actually work. This will also significantly reduce the time the employees spend in the office but away from work (also known as time theft or wasting time).

The reason for these improvements is lower stress due to having to oblige to strict rules. Less stress means happier employees who are able to finish their tasks in time.

Reducing the Costs

Fewer employees on the premises means less necessary office space. Besides being great for the overall workspace safety, having to accommodate a smaller team is cheaper as well. Here are some costs you can reduce by including flextime in your routine:

  • Smaller office space (aka lower rent)
  • Lower utility bills
  • Fewer office supplies
  • Lower office perk costs (coffee, juices, snacks, etc.)

Additionally, there is the abovementioned higher retention rate, which helps you save on training new employees.

Is It a Perfect Solution?

As any employer knows, perfect solutions are extremely rare, if not non-existing. In other words, both the employees and the employers are going to face some challenges with flextime.

Leaving the Premises

Offices have been in use for such a long time for a reason. Some employees actually prefer the routine of coming to work and committing to it in a specific environment. They can feel like they’re being stripped of their right to that environment and daily routine that helps them focus on work and be productive. Hence, it is best not to force flextime on your employees, but enable them to choose it if they prefer to, or need to be home for other reasons.

Work vs Life

Many employees who have started working from home in the last two years have expressed the same gripe with remote work. Namely, without a strict structure of the office, they find it very difficult to differentiate between personal time and working hours. This will leave them working overtime and not knowing when to stop.

An employer may be thrilled by the increase in productivity, but the truth of the matter is that the more overtime someone works the more likely it is for them to overwork themselves and become burnt out.

Work vs Loved Ones

It was assumed, and the last two years have proven beyond the shadow of the doubt that working from home means actual work. However, family members, spouses, and children tend not to understand that. To them, a person working from home means that they are available and free to talk and do things around the house the entire day. This is one of the more difficult problems, as the employees are expected to be productive workers and an integral part of their family at the same time.

Communication

There are multiple problems regarding communication when it comes to flextime.

  • Getting used to using the communication channels regularly can be daunting. Especially so if the coworker you’re trying to reach has different working hours.
  • For the same reason, urgent matters may have to be rescheduled for a later date.
  • Organizing group meetings is very difficult, as the employees are all working on their own time. So, you may have to interrupt an employee in the middle of their most productive period, or insist on talking to another one who has just woken up and isn’t at their full capacity yet.

Getting Used to It

As difficult as it is for your employees, flextime is also challenging for the management of your company. The managers will need to learn how to coordinate teams comprised of in-office staff, part-time employees, telecommuters, or even employees in different time zones. That is why you need to equip them with the best project management tools out there.

Is It Worth It?

We wouldn’t be talking about flextime and all of its numerous benefits if there wasn’t a way to get over the obstacles. When implementing new business practices it is important to have a clear plan and set objectives for your employees and the management itself. So, here are our tips on how to best utilize all the possibilities flextime has to offer.

Set Clear Goals and Guidelines

As you may have noticed, communication is an integral part of making flextime work in your organization. Using communication software is important, but it is only one of the aspects of successful communication.

The communication process needs to start before you implement flextime. Moreover, you should consider it a key element of the implementation. Make sure most members of your team would truly benefit from remote work or other flextime options. Additionally, make accommodations for the employees who express the desire to stay in the offices as well. Talking with all employees one on one is a good way to reduce the pressure and get their honest opinions on whether flextime is a good choice for your company or not.

Establishing clear guidelines is the first step you want to make if you decide to go on with the change. The guidelines should contain the following:

Time frames

You cannot allow your employees to work at completely different hours. This may prove difficult if your team is comprised of people living on different continents. Hence, some rules must be set. For example, everyone should be available for a meeting at the same time. This may mean you will be waking up some of your employees in the middle of the night, though. That is why it’s important to only require these meetings when they’re truly necessary. You wouldn’t appreciate your boss waking you up at 4 AM for a meeting you don’t even get to speak in.

If, on the other hand, your team is local, there needs to be a period during the workday in which all team members are online. This means setting up a time frame that results in at least a couple of hours when all the employees would be available each day.

Hourly Requirements

Even the most liberal system will require a minimum of hours spent working. this can be a standard 40-hour week, or any other number of hours you find works best for your needs

Time tracking

Flextime allows for a flexible work schedule. The problem arises once you lose track of who has done what and how far along your team is with a specific project. That is why this flexibility in work hours and quotas must be accompanied by well-regulated time tracking solutions that clearly indicate the number of work hours that went into different projects by the employee.

Conclusion

Flextime is proving to be one of the best practices in modern business. However, the flexibility of working time and space can become uncontrollable if you aren’t clear about the rules. Hence, you will need to

  • Figure out whether flextime is a good option for your company
  • Find the best methods for your teams
  • Implement the system gradually and test its benefits compared to the drawbacks
  • Continue maintaining and improving upon your system so it fits your needs better

Remember, the most conventional solutions aren’t always the best for you. If you are deciding to think outside the box, you should be as unconventional as necessary.

 

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