How to Make Flexible Working Hours Work For Everyone

by James McDonald on June 10, 2019

As more employers begin embracing flexible working hours, the idea of a 9-5 workday is fading.

A flexible work schedule offers employees a greater sense of autonomy and an opportunity to work when they feel most productive. It allows employees to handle obligations in their personal lives and helps them feel more in control of their schedule.

Unfortunately, flexible working hours can also blur the lines between work and home. Some managers may not appreciate the lack of visibility into how their employees are spending their time.

Here are five ways to make flexible work arrangements work for everyone.

1. Talk To Employees About Flexible Working Hours

For any organization considering flexible working hours, the very first step is to talk with your employees. Inform them that your company is considering adopting a flexible schedule but wants to gauge interest first. Assure them no changes will be made without consideration of the potential impact on the workforce.

Ask employees to share their honest opinions about a flexible schedule, including the benefits and possible challenges. Allow them to share their feedback anonymously. This insight will help you determine how to introduce flexible hours in the least disruptive and most beneficial way.

2. Explore How Other Companies Have Done It

While your strategy for adopting flexible working hours will be unique to your company, you can use the experiences of other companies to guide your decisions. Establish a committee to research how similarly-sized companies in your industry have approached flexible scheduling.

The group should be composed of both managers and employees from multiple departments throughout the business. This will help ensure the concerns and interests of employees at all levels of the organization are properly represented. Be sure to provide the feedback you received from the rest of the workforce so they can take that into account as they develop their recommendations.

3. Ensure Employees’ Technology Needs Are Met

One of the most common criticisms for a flexible work schedule is that it impedes contact and collaboration between employees. However, this is easily avoided with the right workplace technology.

Before you implement flexible working hours, build a digital workplace that supports on-demand knowledge sharing and cross-department communication. For example, apps like Slack make it easy for employees to connect with one another, regardless of their physical location.

There’s an important caveat, though: you must remind employees to be respectful of their colleagues’ schedules. If someone is off the clock, they shouldn’t be expected to respond to a message immediately.

4. Create a Formal and Consistent Policy

Implementing flexible working hours will likely be a huge change for your organization, and there are a lot of opportunities for miscommunications and misunderstandings. To make sure everyone is on the same page from Day One, draft a formal, written policy that clearly states what is expected of employees and what employees can expect from the company.

A formal policy prevents inconsistent application of flexible working hours, which can hurt employee morale and lead to conflicts between team members. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has an example template for flexible working hours to give you a starting point.

5. Regularly Review and Revise as Necessary

The last step in successfully implementing flexible working hours is to adopt a process of continuous improvement. As you did prior to implementation, regularly ask employees for feedback. What do they like about the flexible schedule? What do they think could be done better? If necessary, update the language of your flexible working policy and have employees sign a revised version. The first few months following implementation will be critical for long-term success.

As with any change in the workplace, successfully implementing a flexible work schedule comes down to preparation.

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James McDonald

James McDonald is a sports enthusiast, brother in Christ and once swam in a tank with the infamous TV sharks.

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