Certainly one of the hottest trends in the workforce today is having a flexible work schedule. As of 2017,3.9 million American employees work from home at least half the time. This number has grown exponentially since 2005 when 1.8 million employees were classified as telecommuters. Much of this growth is related to advancements in technology and the widespread adoption of cloud-based software, which enable employees to be productive whether they're in the office or working remotely.
Research shows that having a flexible work schedule contributes to more productive and satisfied employees, thus benefiting the company's bottom line. Today's employees (especially those in the Millennial generation) crave a work-life balance, and being given the option to have a flexible work schedule can help them to achieve this.
If you're considering giving your employees the option to telecommute on occasion, it's important that you understand the good and bad that can come from offering a flexible work schedule. Outlined below is a list of pros and cons for allowing employees to telecommute:
The Pros of a Flexible Work Schedule
1. Schedule Can Adapt to the Employee's Family's Needs
Employees that are trying to balance their work day with family life at home will appreciate the ability to set their own work hours around the demands of having a family. For example, an employee may begin his or her work day before the sun comes up, take a break to drive the kids to school, work several hours while the kids are at school, and attend the kids' sport practices in the evening. Having flexibility gives employees the ability to manipulate their schedules to take care of matters back home without taking away from productivity.
2. Employees Can Occasionally Indulge in Self-Care
On occasion, employees will want to put their personal needs before work (exercise, get a haircut, meditate, etc). Taking a quick time out during the work day to indulge in self-care will bring employees more joy and clarity to focus on the task. Plus, research shows that happy employees are 12 percent more productive.
3. More Time to Pursue Passions
Unfortunately, most employees can't pursue their passions when they're required to work within a traditional 9 to 5 schedule. Giving your employees the flexibility to participate in the weekly hiking group at noon on Fridays or to attend a cooking class at 4 p.m. on Tuesdays will lead to greater satisfaction on the job. When employees feel happy in their current role, they'll contribute more to your organization. Also, having the ability to pursue passions leads to more innovative thinking, which can inspire employees to come up with unconventional solutions to your company's challenges.
4. Employees Can Work When They're Most Productive
We all have different times of the day when we're most productive. For some, beginning the work day before the sun comes up allows for maximum focus and productivity. Others can work more intensively and distraction-free mid-day until the evening. The point is that the peak productivity time for your employees will vary, and allowing them to base their work schedules around their optimal time of productivity will greatly benefit your business.
5. Helps Your Business to Attract Top Talent
Being able to offer your employees the option to telecommute will help you to attract and retain top talent in a competitive job market. According to a recent Gallup study, 53 percent of employees say that having a job that offers a healthy work-life balance and flexible work schedule is very appealing to them. In some cases, a flexible work schedule is viewed as more important than salary.
The Challenges With a Flexible Work Schedule
1. Arranging Meetings is More Difficult
Trying to arrange a meeting with a group of employees that don't work a traditional 9 to 5 schedule can be very challenging. For example, if three people in your office don't begin their work day until 10 a.m., setting up appointments with clients that are accustomed to meeting first thing in the morning is not ideal.
2. The Line Between Work and Personal Life Often Intermingles
Life has the potential to intervene more drastically when employees are working a flexible schedule from home. For example, while it's great for an employee to be able to catch a noon spin class, it may be 3 p.m. before the employee is able to jump back into work. Also, considering that most people work the traditional 9 to 5 schedule, telecommuters may feel tempted and pressured to ditch work for personal plans.
3. Lack of Structure
It takes a lot of discipline to be able to be productive while working from home. Employees that work from home have very little structure, and the extra freedom can cause performance to slide.
4. Difficult to Create a Bonded Team
When your team doesn't have the opportunity to regularly meet face-to-face, it can be difficult to develop organic, authentic relationships. One way to overcome this challenge is to schedule periodic team building events, but this would still require your company to plan around your employees' flexible work schedules.
As you can see, there are pros and cons to offering your employees a flexible work schedule, and you'll have to make the determination as to what the best decision is for your organization.
While New York Ave is a creative marketing agency, we pride ourselves in staying in tune with the latest trends in the workplace. Contact us to chat more about the pros and cons of offering a flexible work schedule and learn how our digital marketing agency will partner seamlessly with your organization to grow your business online.