For many years, experts have talked about work life balance and how company policy can either support it or work against it. Past discussions were often about paid time off (PTO) and whether to allow more time or flexibility in how sick or vacation days were used. In recent years, work life balance has expanded to include the option of both flexible work schedules and remote work.
Companies are facing more competition when it comes to recruiting top talent, and today’s workers often consider flexible work schedules a requirement rather than something that would be nice to have. In other words, it’s time for companies to start looking more closely at options for flexible work schedules.
During the pandemic, we saw the rise of remote work and both benefits and drawbacks of being solely remote. Now is the time to take that knowledge and apply it to the idea of flexible work schedules. The first thing to acknowledge is that not every position can be flexible about when and where the work is performed. For example, a plumber cannot work from home, nor can a receptionist greet people unless physically in the office.
For positions that can be flexible in both time and location, here are some things to consider as you develop policies and practices around flexible work schedules.
Weigh the pros and cons of flexible work schedules
As with any benefit offered, there are important pros and cons to consider when writing your policy. The biggest pro is that flexibility gives employees the time they need to manage their life and their job. It hands control of managing work life balance back to the employee, which often equates to more productivity. Allowing people the flexibility in work hours that they need to manage their lives allows them to bring their best self to their work hours.
In some cases, flexible work schedules simply mean different start and end times to the work day but all work is still done in the office. In other cases, flexible work schedules means many employees are doing an hour or two of work from home in the evening to catch up from a late arrival or early departure. If flexible work schedules also involves remote work, drawbacks could include IT security of home networks and the expense involved in setting employees up to work remotely. Many companies have already worked through these challenges in recent years, but they are important to address.
Consider other benefits for non-flexible positions
Another aspect to address is the inequity created between flexible and non-flexible positions due to the job requirements. While the benefits may not be able to look the same, it is important to create a benefit for the non-flexible positions as well. Without it, those employees may feel frustrated or slighted by the flexible work policy. One great way of balancing this is adding extra PTO for those positions that cannot work flexible hours. This way, employees can manage their personal lives as necessary and still have time to take an actual vacation. There could be other ways of balancing this, but the most important thing is communication. When creating policies around flexible schedules, have open conversations about which positions are flexible and why and be open to suggestions on other ways of creating work life balance for all employees.
Be clear about your expectations
When setting up your policy, consider what expectations you are setting for employees. You don’t want to micromanage an employee with a flexible schedule, but you also need to know that the job is getting done. The key here is to create a structure around check-ins, which might include a set check-in time or a project management system that helps everyone see project status. Communication is key in ensuring employees know what is expected of them within a flexible work schedule.
Offering some sort of flexibility in work schedules is becoming a necessity for companies trying to hire new employees or retain top talent. Spending the time and money to set up flexible schedules, where possible, is well worth the effort and can show returns in employee retention, hiring, and employee productivity.
If you need help creating policies for flexible work schedules, reach out to the WhyHR team today to discuss how we can help.