Flexible work arrangements are the most common way that employers can meet their staffing needs while giving their workers a valuable benefit. Instead of planning your day around a work schedule as in generations past, jobs that allow for alternative scheduling let employees meet their obligations in a way that suits their needs.
There are several different types of flexible work arrangements from which to choose, so knowing which options will work best for the office or an employee’s schedule is the key to unlocking the benefits of this opportunity. It is also essential to know the differences between the various types of flex arrangements so that the correct decision can be made each time.
Five common methods of flexible scheduling are used in the United States across all industries.
- Remote Working
- Condensed Scheduling
- Customized Hours
- Flexible Vacation
If you are looking for a job with flexible work arrangements or you are a business owner who is thinking about implementing this option, then these are the pros and cons you’ll want to review.
List of the Pros of Flexible Work Arrangements
1. There is an increased feeling of personal control.
When you work 40 hours per week (or even part-time), it can feel like your job dictates your life. It forces you to schedule doctor’s appointments at the beginning or end of the day. You are stuck being in the office instead of volunteering at your child’s school. Adding flexibility to the schedule makes it much easier to manage all of the personal responsibilities that happen each day while keeping your professional perspective at the forefront of your life too. Flexible scheduling makes it easier to juggle the to-do lists that form every day.
Over 20 million people in the United States work a part-time job because of the work-life balance that option provides. 11% of Millennials say that flexibility is their primary priority when looking for a new job.
2. Flexible scheduling reduces staff turnover.
If your schedule is not what you would want it to be, then a job offer that gives you better flexibility will be tempting to take – and sometimes even if that means taking a pay cut to get it. Businesses that refuse to work with their employees to manage the needs of a personal schedule often find that their best talent leaves to work elsewhere because they need this element in their life. If you can add some level of flexing, even if it only happens a couple of times per month, then there is less turnover. You might even find that the number of sick days or vacation requests goes down too.
3. It can reduce the cost of commuting.
If you need to head to work during the rush hour and return home at the same time as everyone else, then you can spend a lot of time in traffic. When a company allows for remote working or telecommuting, then this expense can go away entirely. Many workers will create a home office that they can use at their own cost because the savings can be so high.
Even if you can only offer a shift in the schedule, it doesn’t take nearly as long to get to work at 6 am as it does when you need to report a couple of hours later. The evening commute works better as well.
4. Flexible scheduling can reduce childcare costs for employees.
When two parents are working to support their family, the cost of childcare can be so high that most of one person’s paycheck can go to this expense. Giving workers an option to be flexible can help your key staff find ways to minimize costs. When you reduce or eliminate that stressor in their life, then their productivity levels can skyrocket. If Mom goes into the office early, then Dad can get the kids to school. Then Mom can pick up the kids after she is done with work. It creates two full-time incomes with minimal added expenses.
5. It can include part-time work as an option.
There are some positions in every industry where full-time work is unwarranted. Offering a part-time job can help to maintain the productivity levels that are needed while providing some people with the schedule they need to manage their lives. You can even attract top-tier talent with this flexible scheduling option when you offer equal benefits. The perks that a job provides are one of the most common reasons why a worker won’t pursue a different job.
You can also use job sharing as a flexible work arrangement. This option allows 2+ workers who have part-time status to share a full-time position. Although it is an uncommon choice, it is still the best fit for some companies and industries.
6. There are more developmental opportunities.
When a flexible work arrangement is possible in the modern workplace, then there are more employee development opportunities that become available. Workers in every age demographic say that the ability to learn and grow when on the job is a priority for their professional career. Half of Millennials say that they want training opportunities from their employers. Even if there aren’t formal classes available, most young workers make their ongoing learning opportunities a personal priority. The classes or courses can fit around their job duties, allowing the workers to accomplish both needs simultaneously.
7. Flexible work arrangements make employees feel more valued.
When a business can show its employees that they are appreciated, then they can retain talent more often. Almost 40% of workers say that the lack of feeling valued was their primary reason for wanting to leave their current position. There are direct links to the mental and physical health of workers when they feel like their contributions matter. By offering a flexible work arrangement, it is easier for businesses to communicate their appreciation for a job well done. The added trust that comes from this arrangement, even if some people exploit it, can help your best talent stick around more often.
8. It reduces the amount of stress that occurs in the workplace.
Almost 60% of employees that are working an inflexible schedule say that they want to leave their current position. Only 22% of workers who have some level of flexibility with their work hours say the same thing. Stress levels are even higher than that percentage (68%), while it is lower for those who can work an alternative schedule (20%). When this option is available to employees, then stress reduction at the office can occur almost immediately. That means you’ll have happier people who are more productive, making it much easier to reach your goals, mission, and vision over time.
9. Morale increases when flexible arrangements are available.
When workers are happier and more fulfilled, then the workplace morale climbs higher naturally. The easiest way to encourage this advantage is to offer ways for people to achieve a better work-life balance. Many hourly workers are parents or students who have a lot of other stuff happening in their life beyond what happens at work each day. When employees feel like they receive favorable treatment from a supervisor, then they reciprocate that emotional expression through their work.
One of the reasons for this advantage is the fact that workers with flex hours feel healthier, sleep better, and those positive effects cascade to the spouse, significant other, and children in the household. The happiness that workers feel when they can get some flex time is a benefit that trickles down to everyone else in that person’s life.
10. Flexible work schedules reduce tardiness and absenteeism.
When an employee has the option to create an alternative work arrangement, then they are more likely to show up for their shift on time. These workers are also more likely to maintain higher levels of productivity throughout their assigned time at work. The number of unplanned absences, call-offs, and no shows can drop dramatically. Many companies refuse to offer this benefit because they think that their workers will act out – or they are afraid of losing control. People don’t stop showing up for work if you give them some power over when they are in the office. The opposite usually occurs.
List of the Cons of Flexible Work Arrangements
1. Some employees thrive in the social workplace.
It can be a challenge for some workers to stay productive in the office when everyone is working a different schedule. The back-and-forth that happens as people come in or leave can be very distracting. There are fewer opportunities to socialize with many flexible work arrangements as well, which is why most employers require a set of core hours during each week where everyone must be present without exception. Even then, it takes more coordination and planning to ensure that everyone is communicating as they should.
2. It blurs the line between personal and professional responsibilities.
When employees are working a flexible schedule, then the delineation between work and home begins to blur. It can feel like you are on-the-clock all of the time, even when you have put your hours in for the day. Imagine that an employer gives a worker time off to attend their child’s soccer games. Since you’re working after hours, it may feel normal to call about business at 10 pm because there are a couple of days per week where you are active at that time. Employers and employees must communicate clear scheduling times to understand when it is time for work and when personal time is happening to avoid conflicts in this area.
3. Flexible work schedules can make people think you’re not working.
Remote workers and employees who telecommute experience this disadvantage all of the time. When you are at home most of the day to put in your hours, it can seem like you’re not doing anything at all. Your neighbors might want to stop by for a chat. Your family might get upset with you if you turn someone down for a personal need. Although it is more common today to work a flexible schedule, it is still an alternative concept for some people.
This disadvantage can extend to other areas of your life as well. Some spiritual communities may not understand your work arrangements and be critical of your choices. There might be resistance from your school because you’re unwilling to volunteer during your regular working hours as well. Even if you communicate your needs well in advance, some people may never understand.
4. There are management challenges to consider.
Employees must remain dedicated to their work schedule with this added flexibility to stay productive. Managing the temptations to watch TV, cruise Facebook, or play video games can be challenging for some workers on a flexible work schedule. Managers who are used to having their direct reports come into the office can struggle to stay in contact with their people who work remotely since it requires more trust.
Team-orientated offices or departments will still need to meet as well, which means trying to juggle personal schedules to make things happen. If there are no set guidelines that govern the decisions in this area, then there are going to be people who take advantage of them.
5. Even with structure, some workers fail to thrive with flexibility.
Some employees require the rigid structure of an 8-5 schedule with an unpaid 1-hour lunch break to get their full-time hours in each week. There are workers who find it challenging not to complete household chores when they are supposed to be working. It can be an unintentional decision too. There are plenty of distractions at home or in a remote location that don’t seem like they’d be problematic until the entire day gets away from someone.
It is not unusual for the employees who work in the office to think of their telecommuting colleagues as “slackers.” Those who work other forms of flexible scheduling can fall into this category as well. When no one can see a person’s responsibilities fulfilled, then discontent can start to rise because everyone else feels like they need to pick up the slack.
6. Flexible work schedules can change B2B relationships.
If you have people working a compressed schedule for their flexibility, then it can make client relationships more complicated. Most businesses operate with the expectation that there are five days of availability each week. If someone isn’t available on a Monday or Friday for some reason, then it can impact the B2B and B2C environment. That’s why customer-centric positions usually have limited flex time available to them and entire days of telecommuting are virtually impossible.
7. Some jobs don’t work well with flexible scheduling.
There are some jobs that don’t respond well to the idea of flexible scheduling. If the position involves an assembly line, hands-on services like healthcare or nursing, or specific forms of customer service, then it may not be a suitable option. Even when there are a couple of positions that may do well with this option, it is not unusual for employers to feel guilty or struggle with the idea of fairness if they allow a couple of people to have this benefit – and no one else.
Positions that women traditionally hold fall into this disadvantage too. There are sometimes inherent gender biases that make it challenging for a woman to get the same levels of flex time that men receive. It is an issue that varies between employers, but it is something that your HR department will want to keep in mind if you are a business owner.
8. Flexible schedules can create an unhealthy relationship with work.
Workers who have the option to have a flexible schedule typically work longer and harder hours than those who report to the office for their shifts. This disadvantage occurs most often because an employee wants to prove they deserve the flexibility, so they become a workaholic in exchange for the added flexibility. It is not unusual for an 8-hour shift to become 10-12 hours each day under this arrangement – whether the extra time is compensated or not. This disadvantage occurs regardless of the job type of the level of influence for the employee as well.
In most situations, for a majority of industries, the advantages of a flexible work schedule usually outweigh the disadvantages that can arise. That is why about 3.9 million employees are working from home at least half of the time. It is a figure that represents about 3% of the entire workforce at this moment.
There are still some industries where the benefits of a flexible schedule are challenging to obtain. If you work in retail, at a restaurant, or in the hospitality category, then the options available to you may be minimal. Healthcare professionals rarely get the option to work in this manner, although there might be options to trade shifts with others to create some customization.
Anything outside of the traditional 9-5 or 8-5 workweek is considered a flexible work schedule in the United States. Evaluating the pros and cons of this guide can help you to determine if this option is right for your office.
Although millions of people visit Brandon's blog each month, his path to success was not easy. Go here to read his incredible story, "From Disabled and $500k in Debt to a Pro Blogger with 5 Million Monthly Visitors." If you want to send Brandon a quick message, then visit his contact page here.