I imagine what first crosses a CEOs mind as they consider flexible work schedules.
»How do I know they are not working for four hours and watching series for the rest of the day?«, »Can I trust in the work getting done?« »Flexible work schedules can’t be good for the teamwork or the company culture.«, »I can’t make everyone happy with flexible working.«, »Could this backfire in any way?« »And why are we even renting offices, if nobody’s here?«
»How do I know they are not working for four hours and watching Netflix for the rest of the day?«
A common belief in a strong association between quantity and quality (in terms of time spent in the office) is still around. The time we put in a certain activity and the results it provides appear to be closely linked. We also link the time spent in the office to a strong work ethics. This apprears to be one of the major obstacles concerning flexible work schedules.
But does more hours spent in the office really result in a higher quality of work or higher levels of employee engagement? Not neccessarily >>>
You are not actually paying your employees for their time and presence in the office, are you? Not if they don’t deliver any results.
So maybe there are more relevant questions to be answered:
- What results do you expect from your staff to be delivered in a workweek
- Could your staff deliver the same results in less than 40 office hours?
- If they could, would the results they deliver still be worth the pay?
»How can I trust in the work getting done?«
Can you trust in the work getting done in the office? What’s the difference?
It can be somehow reassuring to see your employees come to the office every day, watching them work and follow up with them on assignments at any time. But as Paul Joyce (the founder of Geckoboard) put it:
»When you treat people like adults that’s what you get«.
You will get more responsible, honest, engaged, more ‘thinking-outside-of-the-box’ employees with positive work attitude and flexible work schedules, because you’ll give them more control over their time and treat them as responsible adults. And they will be happier, healthier and more efficient >>>
But let’s get you some of that reassurance back! Providing flexible work schedules doesn’t mean you need to lose control and track of hours worked or the information on daily employee availability.
Your employees can clock in and out from anywhere using a mobile time clock app. With online timesheets you will get a real-time employee attendance overview and information on employee availability. And if ‘from anywhere‘ doesn’t work for you, you can simply set up a list of approved GPS locations, where your employees are allowed to clock-in.
Every employee time log and company timesheet is stored safely online and always available a few clicks away.
»Flexible work schedules can’t be good for the teamwork or the company culture.«
“Working from home doesn’t mean you’re cut off from the rest of the team – a combination of good broadband and great communication tools (we use Flowdock for team chat and Google Hangouts for video conferencing) diminish the need to be in the same physical location all of the time.
Paul Joyce, the founder of Geckoboard for Virgin.com
It can be very good for the team actually, because there are various people on every team and different people function best in different work settings. What follows the increase in personal wellbeing of each team member, is the increase in team and company morale.
Flexible work schedules usually don’t mean the entire team working remotely all the time and communicating only through online platforms for the rest of the days. What is important is that if they wanted, they actually could – communication tools like Google Hangouts, Slack and others, have come a long way, providing means for not just seamless, but even enriched team communication. You will need to choose suitable online communication tools for your company together with your employees.
Besides, it seems easier to catch someone online in the right moment than in a company hall. And it also seems people tend to hide from each other less online and respond more promptly when they are not all under the same roof.
In flexible team-oriented departments it is of course still recommended for teams to meet regularly face to face. To arrange this you can simply set the core time (core hours or core days) for the whole team, during which all team members should be present at the office to meet, follow up or work on common assignments.
»I can’t make everyone happy with flexible work schedules.«
»Everyone on our team is afforded the same flexibility, so everyone pitches in to help out when someone is away. Instead of resentment or isolation, we are a more connected, more supportive team because we all reap the benefits.«
Sara Sutton Fell, the founder and CEO at FlexJobs for Huffington Post
Achieving fairness for all staff could be your biggest challenge in introducing flexible work policy. Not all arrangements are suitable for all jobs.
Compressed work week may not work best if you offer client services, because clients wouldn’t be too happy about your non-working Fridays. If you own a store, your sellers can’t work from home. Assembly-line would be chaotic if company offered flexitime and a certain spot remained empty for two hours.
You should carefully select those flexible work schedules that best suit your company workflow.
»Could flexible work schedules backfire in any way?«
Well of course they could, but there are measures to avoid this.
Flexible work schedules, especially with remote work, can lead to a burn-out faster, strange as this may seem. No clear boundaries are set between work and home, so highly motivated individuals can fall into the trap of 24/7 work. Without direct supervision, it can be more common for them to work unauthorized overtime.
A recent study found that employees who work from home add an average of 5 to 7 hours of productive time, often in addition to their standard workweek. This can produce potential wage and hour complications. In addition, in most countries employers are required to accurately record and sometimes even report all time worked by their employees.
Not monitoring remote employees’ schedules makes it more difficult to prohibit off-the-clock work and to ensure compliance with overtime regulations. Mobile clocking systems can definitely sort these issues out to a point. When using a mobile time clock app employees clock in every time when they start working, and clock out every time they stop, at any location, with their mobile devices. This can be their means to conscious and deliberate start and end of work and they have a constant overview of their worked hours as well.
And so do you, which means you can supervise the amount of hours worked, notice unauthorized overtimes quickly and have all the necessary data and company timesheets at hand, if by any chance the labor inspector stops by.
You should set daily plans and structure your flexible work schedules so that employees do not work overtime and, if they do, ensure the time is accurately recorded. Make your employee attendance procedures clear and acknowledged by employees.
There is of course the other side to this coin. Some people can’t work from home, because they get distracted too easily and never get the actual work done. Especially if they are not really known for their organizational skills. They may end up with ‘working’ all day and getting nothing done, which is stressful for both parties.
You and your employees should agree on a trial period when negotiating flexible work schedules, for both of you to see how it works out.
»Why are we even renting offices, if nobody’s here?«
Well, why are you?
Unless you find other reasons than providing desks and chairs for your employees to sit on, you should probably consider lowering your operational costs with flexible work schedules >>>
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