Megan Hageman is a Columbus-based freelance writer specializing in social media and content marketing.
Full-time jobs have typically been defined by a standard 9:00 a.m. start time and a 5:00 p.m. wrap to the day, Monday through Friday. However, flexibility has become the overwhelming trend, with 71 percent of American workers identifying flexible schedules as one of the most in-demand types of work arrangement. Among women, it’s one of the top four things they want most from their employers. Among working mothers, it’s second only to paid time off.
So, what is flextime?
Flextime refers to the ability of employees to set their own schedules as long as they get their work done.
But this growing practice doesn’t necessarily mean employees can come and go at any given time. When employers offer flextime they tend to define a set of “core hours” when employees must be in the office, and then from there employees have the freedom to make up the rest of their 40 hours based on their preferences or other responsibilities.
For example, a company can set core hours of 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. As long as you’re in the office during those times, they way you get in the rest of your 40 hours is up to you. Some organizations offer flex days, allowing their staff to work longer hours Monday through Thursday and take a half-day or a whole day off on Fridays.
Read more: How to Negotiate Flexible Work Hours
The benefits of flextime for employees
There’s a reason both companies and employees have a newfound, enthusiasm for flextime. Not only are there benefits to productivity and engagement, there are also benefits to mental and physical health as well.
Skip rush hour
Long commutes can be stressful and cut into precious hours of productivity. A long and stressful work commute has detrimental effects on health and happiness. Flextime allows employees to adjust their schedules around peak traffic times and cut back on lengthy travel.
Work around kids’ schedules
Flextime makes it easy for parents to pick up kids from school, make it soccer games and plays, and work from home to care for sick kids. A survey by Benefits Pro revealed that 91 percent of working parents say that becoming a mom or dad has made them seek out a job with flexible scheduling options.
Increased job satisfaction
The ability to pick the hours that work best for each individual employee greatly increases job satisfaction and overall work-life balance.
A study by a Stanford University professor found that when workers have the ability to choose when and where they work, the result is higher productivity, increased engagement, better health, and lower stress. Everyone has times during the day when they work more efficiently, and flextime allows for employees to cater to their own productivity clock.
Improved mental and physical health
Employees who can control their own schedules and work from where they please can expect improved mental and physical health. Less stress, improved job satisfaction, and plenty of time to fit in exercise and time with family can go a long way to bettering your lifestyle.
Benefits of flextime for employers
When your employees are happy, healthy, engaged, and productive, your business will benefit. Here are a few more reasons employers should adopt flexible work schedules.
Lower employee turnover
Sixty-one percent of workers have reported leaving or considered leaving a job because of a lack of work hour flexibility. Giving employees freedom to customize work hours goes a long way in retaining qualified employees and will help to eliminate the stress and cost of employee turnover.
Flextime can increase employee attendance, because staff may miss work less frequently for appointments, traffic, school schedules, or family obligations.
While some employees will opt to come in earlier, some will want to come in later and stay later. This means a wider range of hours during the day will be covered for last-minute projects or emergency needs.
What are the downsides of flextime?
Despite the growth of the flextime trend. there are inevitably some downsides to keep in mind with this arrangement.
It can be difficult to schedule meetings or time to work on specific projects with coworkers.
Unless schedules are shared with the group, there can be confusion around when employees will be in the office.
You may see a decrease in team unity when everyone is on different or alternate schedules.
Increase in email conversations rather than in-person meetings can cause pitfalls in communication and more misunderstandings.
Employees with flexible schedules can actually find themselves working significantly longer hours or feel pressure to be always available.
Employers can combat some of these difficulties by making a work calendar or schedule to track everyone’s hours and asking employees to work the same set of hours each week to help with planning. When implemented and managed correctly flextime can greatly increase productivity and rapport within an organization.