Flex time is a work arrangement that enables employees to decide their daily work timings, giving them the autonomy to create their own schedules.
However, employers introducing such flexible work arrangements may face some challenges during the initial phase.
To help them get started, we’ve compiled the necessary knowledge on the topic. So, go through this blog to learn:
- what flex time is,
- the types of flex time arrangements employers can opt for,
- its advantages and disadvantages, and
- best practices to implement this schedule effectively for your workforce
What Is Flex Time?
Flex time, also known as flexitime, is an arrangement where employees have the freedom to choose the start and end times of their workdays.
In a flex-time schedule, employees would work the same number of hours as they would in a regular schedule. However, they have the flexibility to choose their shift timings.
Though employees have the liberty to come and leave the office at whatever time they find convenient, they have to be present at work during the core hours.
What Are Core Hours?
Core hours is a brief period in a workday during which employees must be available, irrespective of the schedule timings they follow.
These hours can be used to collaborate or coordinate with team members and other departments. That’s required because coordinating with them during the general hours may be challenging, as people may choose to work at different hours.
Thus, core hours are designed to discuss important issues, work on roadblocks and bottlenecks, update about the work status, or make some important decisions. With core hours, employees can work together at the same time for this.
Example of Flex Time
Let’s say a few employees prefer to work from 7 am to 3 pm, while others choose to work from 10 am to 7 pm. Then employers can schedule the core hours where the timings of most employees coincide, such as 10 am to 2 pm. This way, teams can collaborate and coordinate during this time and still enjoy the flexibility to work during the hours convenient to them.
|7 am to 10 am
|10 am to 2 pm
|3 pm to 7 pm
Types of Flex Time Arrangements
Customized Work Hours
In a customized work hours system, employees can choose their work timings, i.e., start and end times.
This system allows employees to work during productive hours or change their schedules to meet personal commitments.
For example, an employee can start early at 8 am, while another can come to the office at 11 am after completing their errands.
However, employees just need to ensure that irrespective of the timing they choose, they should be available during the core hours and complete the minimum required work hours set for a week.
Remote work allows employees to work from home or anywhere outside the office. It helps employees attain a better work-life balance and easily attend to their personal commitments without compromising on the work.
In other words, remote opportunities provide flexibility to work from anywhere without being physically present.
Under comp time, employees can work extra hours during busy workdays. To compensate for those extra hours, they can work fewer hours or take time off on the days when there’s little or no work to be done.
This way, employees work fewer hours on less busy days instead of getting overtime pay.
As part of job sharing, part-time employees work in two different shifts as a substitute for a full-time employee.
For example, one part-time employee can work from 8 am to 12 pm, while another can provide shift coverage from 12 pm to 4 pm.
This way, employers can split resources with part-time jobs into two shifts to get coverage of full-time work hours.
However, the standard core hours may not exist in this schedule, and employees need to communicate with each other to keep workflow consistent and smooth.
Flexible Work Week
In a flexible workweek, employees have to work fixed hours in a week, irrespective of how they complete them.
For example, if employees have to work 40 hours per week, they can work 10 hours each day and avail 3 days off.
In other words, employees have the liberty to choose how many days and hours they want to work to complete the mandatory workweek hours.
What Types of Jobs Can Use Flex Time?
Flexible time arrangement gives employees autonomy to create their own schedules. This can help them achieve a better work-life balance without compromising work quality.
Generally, jobs that require more creativity and productivity rather than those that need quantitative work are well-suited for flex time arrangements. In addition, flex time can’t work well in customer-facing jobs, such as in call centers.
Jobs that can work well with flex time schedules
Advantages of Flex Time
Better Work-Life Balance
Employees working fixed 9-to-5 schedule work on stringent timings. Thus, they’re not able to attend to their commitments during those hours, such as visiting a doctor, picking children up from school, or visiting a bank. They need to take time off from work or shift their appointments to some other days. That’s why traditional work schedules don’t provide much work-life balance.
However, employees can attend to their errands or commitments in flex time arrangements and still do their jobs without needing time off.
For example, suppose an employee has to visit a bank during the workday. He can choose to work from 7 am to 3 pm and then visit the bank after 3 pm, as banks mostly operate from 9 am to 5 pm and are usually closed on weekends.
Similarly, if an employee has to pick up their children from school, they can take a 1-hr break from the office and work an extra hour to compensate for it.
This way, flex time provides a better work-life balance, improves employee morale, and gives them control over their time without compromising on work.
Reduction in Absenteeism
Employees are less likely to take time off when they get the opportunity to work from home, have control over their time, and have the flexibility to manage their personal and professional commitments.
For example, if an employee has an appointment with a doctor at 10 am, they can visit the doctor and start working from 11 am, thus eliminating the need to take time off.
Better Productivity and Performance
The term ‘Einstein Window’ refers to the period during which people attain their mental peak. Mostly, the Einstein Window lasts 2-4 hours, during which people feel most productive and can easily complete any difficult task.
Each person may have their own Einstein Window, as some employees feel very productive during the morning hours, while others may feel this peak during the evening hours.
Armed with flex time arrangements, employees can work when they feel most productive and thus can quickly complete their jobs.
This way, flex time helps improve productivity, as employees can work during their productive hours and yield the best results for the organization.
Less Chances of Burnout
“ According to research conducted at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, giving employees the autonomy to change their schedule can decrease job stress by 20% and increase job satisfaction by 62%.”
Employees working in the flex time arrangement are less likely to feel burnout and fatigue. That’s because they can manage their errands and office work at their convenience and take breaks whenever they feel like taking them.
In addition, they can also take some time to pursue their hobbies or interests when working in flex time arrangements. Doing this can significantly reduce the chances of stress and burnout.
For example, an employee can attend a yoga class in the morning and then log in at their convenience without needing to rush to the office to be on time.
Less Commuting Time
Flex time allows employees to come and go from the office whenever they want. Thus, they can choose to avoid rush hours while commuting.
For example, 10 to 11 am is the hour during which the traffic is at its peak, so employees can choose to work a shift that starts from 9 am/12 pm. This way, they can avoid the peak hours and save time and fuel in commuting.
Helps Attract Top Talent
Organizations that implement flex time arrangements can attract top talents. This is because the most skilled employees prefer to work in a company that provides flexibility in terms of schedule, location, and work hours.
More Chances to Learn and Grow
With flexible work timings in place, employees can easily find time to learn something new, attend classes, or join seminars.
For example, if an employee works remotely and has the flexibility to work at their own pace, they can join some classes that can upgrade their skills or help them advance in their career.
So, employees can work whenever they want and still attend classes without missing work.
Higher Employee Retention
Providing employees with some flexibility in their work helps employers retain talented resources.
Employees working in the flex time arrangement have better work-life balance. They can easily meet their personal commitments, can avoid long commutes, and work when they feel the most productive. Thus, employees working such schedules will hardly think of quitting the job, thanks to the flexibility they have.
In flex time, such as remote work arrangements, employers can reduce the immense costs associated with a business’s daily operations.
For example, suppose employers opt for a remote work culture. In that case, they can almost eliminate the overhead expenses associated with physical office spaces, such as electricity, rent, utilities, Wi-Fi, infrastructure, and maintenance.
Similarly, employers who opt for job-sharing arrangements can opt for smaller office space and spend less money on rent.
Helpful for Parents With Young Kids
Parents with young kids find this schedule most beneficial, as they can prepare meals for them, help them get ready for school, and drop them off without worrying whether they’ll be able to reach their office on time or not.
Ensures Better Safety and Health
Flex time arrangements allow employees to pay more attention to their health and overall well-being. With the liberty to create a personalized work schedule, they can set their work hours to equally focus on their physical and mental well-being.
For example, they can modify their work hours to find some time for activities, such as going to the gym, taking a yoga class, or running in the morning or evening.
On top of that, with the help of flex time schedules, employers can easily limit the number of employees in the workplace by implementing remote or comp time schedules. This arrangement can help them reduce the likelihood of spreading contagious diseases, such as COVID-19 and viral flu among employees.
Disadvantages of Flex Time
Can Give Rise to Feelings of Loneliness
Employees working in flex time schedules choose to work at different times at their convenience, so they may see their colleagues less often. This work arrangement can be demotivating for employees who like working with their colleagues.
Thus, employees who like working as a part of the team and have good connections with their teammates may sometimes feel isolated.
On top of that, due to variations in the work schedule, employees may meet different people each day. They may not be able to have the same connection with every other office colleague, which can impact their productivity.
Monitoring Overtime Hours Is Difficult
When employees tend to work at different times each day, it may sometimes create a challenge for managers to keep a tab on their overtime hours.
With a fixed work schedule, managers can easily identify employees who work late or above regular hours and are eligible for overtime pay. However, the different timings of each employee each day may create confusion. Also, if employers miss out on providing overtime pay, it may lead to compliance issues.
Did You Know?
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) doesn’t address flexible schedules, including flex time work arrangements. It considers these as mutual agreements that take place between employers and employees.
In flex time schedule arrangements, employees choose the schedule that works best for them, and it can vary on a daily basis. But, keeping a tab on whether or not each employee completes the minimum work hours is challenging.
For example, in a static work schedule, employees come and leave the office at the same time, thus ensuring they complete their required work hours. However, it’s not the same case in a flex time schedule.
Not Suitable for All Job Roles
Customer or client-facing jobs mostly require a consistent work schedule for employees. Thus, flex time is not an appropriate arrangement for all job types.
On the other hand, industries that require creative and productive work where the output is measured by its quality rather than quantity may find such a schedule worth experimenting with.
Difficulty in Coordination
There are many tasks that are connected and have dependencies on each other. If employees working as part of a team get stuck on a task, they may require assistance from their colleagues. Thus, such employees may have to wait for their teammates to come to work so they can resolve the bottleneck, which is, at times, counterproductive.
Employers can further exacerbate this situation if they don’t set any core work hours.
People working odd hours, such as 5 pm to 1 am, may witness less employee turnout and work in an almost empty office.
It’s likely that they won’t have experienced employees in the office to help them during those work hours. This can make it difficult to work on certain tasks.
Moreover, if an office has very few employees in any shift, it may become difficult to assist in case some workplace accidents occur.
How to Use Flex Time in Your Company
Decide Which Type of Flex Time to Offer
The foremost step for implementing flex time in your workplace is determining which type of work arrangement can work well.
For example, if your business faces a surge during the peak season, while there’s minimal work during the off-peak season, you can consider choosing a comp flex time work schedule.
Have a larger workforce but small office space? You can opt for a remote work arrangement or even try a job-sharing work schedule.
To better assess which type can fit the bill, you’ll need to start by understanding your organization’s needs. You’ll also need to assess the workload considerations, team dynamics, nature of the business, and preferences of the stakeholders and employees.
You’ll also need to consult the HR team and vendors to better understand which approach can ensure a better work-life balance without hampering the business operations.
Communicate With Employees
Once you’ve decided on the type of flex time work schedule you’ll implement, communicate this to employees and help them with queries and doubts.
Make sure to elucidate the following points:
- Benefits of flex time work schedule
- How it’ll help them gain a better work-life balance
- How the schedule will work
- What are the guidelines they have to follow
Make sure you spell out the non-negotiable guidelines that they have to follow, irrespective of the type of flex time schedule they’re in, such as:
- minimum hours to work in a day or week
- core hours in which they have to be available
- the time frame during which they can clock in and clock out, such as 7 am to 9 pm. (If you don’t set the limit, employees may start working at odd hours)
Creating clear guidelines will help them understand what’s expected of them and what flexibility they can avail of.
Tip: Actively listen to your employee’s inputs, answer their queries, and give clear explanations to help them become acquainted with the schedule.
Mention the Flex Time Policy in the Employee Handbook
It’s a good practice to document all the rules and regulations in an employee handbook to leave no room for confusion and conflicts. Make sure that you add all the relevant information, guidelines and negotiable/non-negotiable counterparts in that section, such as:
- The reasoning behind implementing flex time arrangement
- Conditions that employees must meet when working in flex time
- Instructions on how to use flex time, such as:
- informing respective managers about what time they’ll work each day
- completing the minimum mandatory hours each day
- keeping managers apprised of the location of work every day,
- do they need to submit a request in advance to use specific hours or work location?
Also, include the policy in the onboarding material so that new joiners can get familiarized with the flex time arrangement and understand how it works.
Decide the Core Hours
Due to a lack of in-person communication, coordination and collaboration can become challenging. This can give rise to frequent misunderstandings and miscommunication.
Thus, employers are advised to decide on fixed core hours every day, during which all employees have to be available for important discussions.
The length of the core hour can vary from 2 to 4 hours, depending on the needs of your business operations. Schedule the core hours in a way that both early and late shift workers are available during that time.
For instance, suppose all the employees clock in and out at different times but are mostly available from 11 pm to 2 pm daily. So, you can consider setting your core hours within this time frame.
Ensure that all employees are informed of the core hours span. They have to be available during this time, regardless of the time they choose to work.
Go for a Trial Round First
If you’re hesitant to implement the schedule company-wide, you can choose to run a trial period first. You can implement this work arrangement in a small team for one or two months and analyze how it goes.
After the trial period, ask the participants to give their inputs, feedback, and mention the challenges they faced. Note down the suggestions and understand what challenges may arise if it’s implemented company-wide and how these can be resolved.
Once you’re sure about the efficacy and success of this work arrangement, you can scale it up for all employees.
Set Clear Goals and Objectives
As each team member’s work hours may differ, keeping a tab on work progress may become difficult.
Though managers can use the core hours to get work updates and understand the project progress, setting a clear timeline, delivery date, and deadline can help employees stay on track.
Managers can give a timeline for the delivery of a particular task or project so that even if they can’t have a stand-up call daily, they can still ensure the timely completion of the work.
There’s a huge probability that most of the employees would want to work during specific hours on most of the days.
Suppose many employees would like to work a shift of 9 am to 5 pm. If you have a large office space, then this shouldn’t be a problem. However, if you have limited office space, this may not work.
Especially if you randomly ask some employees to work other shifts, employees may consider it preferential treatment and favoritism.
To tackle this, you can create a guideline that if most employees wish to work on the same shift, they will get that shift on a rotational basis. This way everyone gets a fair chance to work their favorable shift.
Employers may face challenges in shift scheduling when many employees show interest in taking up the same shift. As taking a random decision can lead to conflicts.
So, how do we address this issue? Try the shift bidding approach to tackle such cases; check this blog to know more:
Use Time Tracking Software
Under flex time arrangements, employees work at different times, and their work locations may also differ. Thus, to ensure whether or not employees are working minimum mandatory hours daily and fulfilling the criteria of weekly hours, managers must track each employee’s work hours and schedule. However, monitoring the work hours of each employee working on variable time can be cumbersome.
To streamline this process, employers should leverage efficient time-tracking software like Replicon to calculate employee work hours, irrespective of location and work schedule.
Tracking time accurately helps in analyzing whether or not employees are meeting set hours. Also, employers can also ensure accurate overtime calculation, payroll processing, and client billing.
Flex time work arrangements are slowly gaining popularity as these help employees decide their own schedules without compromising work quality. In fact, the flex time schedule offers plenty of benefits, including improved employee satisfaction, better work-life balance, better productivity, and reduced absenteeism.
Employers can opt for the right flex time work arrangement that aligns with their business needs and still provides employees the flexibility to work.
However, implementing such schedules can raise challenges such as coordination difficulties, keeping track of employee work hours, calculating overtime hours, etc.
As a solution, managers can leverage any efficient time-tracking system that can do the heavy lifting of tracking employees’ work hours, schedules, and overtime hours, irrespective of the time they choose to work.