The idea of flexible work schedules likely would have been laughed at two decades ago. Today, though, the standard 9-to-5 jobs are a thing of the past. According to a 2018 study, 71 percent of job seekers in the United States look for job opportunities that offer flexible scheduling. As a result, we have seen more and more companies offer their workers some flexibility in scheduling work hours. There have been plenty of studies that have proven there are many benefits to flexible working conditions. Giving employees more control in the hours they work can help improve productivity, satisfaction, and retention. 

However, not all companies are giving in to the trend of allowing flexible work schedules, or “Flex-Time” – and for good reason. Though there clearly are benefits, there is potential for some downsides that employees really need to consider. For example, companies that don’t have the technology and management tools, such as employee scheduling software like Scheduling+, to help make flex schedules work will be putting themselves in a tough spot. 

Scheduling+ offers the best workforce management software and employee scheduling app that makes the lives of employees and management easier. Scheduling+ was created to give employers a complete workforce management scheduling software. By integrating task management, scheduling, payroll, and an online time clock that allows employees to clock in and out from their computer or their phone – and so much more – all into one powerful solution, we did just that. Without a schedule management software, companies can be susceptible to issues that can deter employee productivity, happiness, and retention. Below, our experts share some issues that can come from companies transitioning into a flexible workplace.

DISADVANTAGES THAT CAN RESULT FROM FLEXIBLE WORK SCHEDULES

Because flexible work schedules give employees the freedom to determine when they arrive and/or leave the office outside of the traditional 40-hour, 9-to-5 workweek, it’s no surprise that some companies are a bit wary. If you are an employer, while looking at the benefits of flexible work schedules is important, it is also important to look at the downsides that can come from giving employees more freedom and control. 

IT CAN BE CHALLENGING TO HAVE MEETINGS REAL-TIME

Good old-fashioned, face-to-face meetings offer more benefits than you may initially think. While technology has gifted us with easy-to-use, modern methods of communication, such as virtual meetings by way of applications like Skype, Google Duo, Facetime, etc. When employees all have different schedules, finding time to schedule face-to-face meetings and communicating real-time about tasks and projects can be a real challenge. Over time, scheduling incompatibilities and lack of impromptu communication can slow down productivity and result in missed opportunities. Not to mention, workers may become stressed and overwhelmed at their inability to work collaboratively with co-workers who are not in the office and are difficult to get a hold of.

IT CAN BECOME HARD FOR EMPLOYEES TO FIND STRUCTURE AT HOME

Some employers offer flexible scheduling in a form that allows their employees to work from some days, if not all days of the week. Working from home requires more focus and discipline than working in an office. With that kind of freedom, it’s easy for employees to get pulled away from their work to handle other distractions. In order to be productive, employees that work from home need to have a rigid schedule set or it may impede performance. With a set schedule, employees are less likely to spend precious productivity hours folding laundry or have other distractions get in the way of their work performance. 

THERE IS A RISK THAT EMPLOYEES WILL TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE SITUATION

Establishing trust with employees is very important. Trust is a fundamental building block of any business or organization and can have a huge influence on workplace culture. Offering flexible schedules without first establishing trust may potentially lead to employees abusing their power of “Flex-Time”. Some may abuse this by coming into the office at 11:00 am and leave at 2:00 pm, while others may claim they are working from home but what they are actually doing is binge-watching the latest series on their streaming app. Before offering flexible work schedules, employers need to feel confident that employees will utilize their time wisely and efficiently. If you don’t have trust then “Flex-Time” is not a good idea. But then again, if you can’t trust your employees, why work with them?

UNSUITABLE FOR SOME EMPLOYEE ROLES

Of course, there are some positions that just aren’t a good fit for flexible work schedules. Customer or client-facing roles, for example, may require an employee to maintain a consistent schedule. If an office relies on its customer service team to take calls and file feedback, it is critical that they keep consistent hours. Offering flexible scheduling to some roles and not others is not the best solution — those who do not qualify for the same flexible scheduling parameters as their coworkers will likely develop feelings of resentful. Some common office positions that may be suitable for flexible scheduling include Graphic Design, Software Engineering, Content Marketing, IT/Server Administration, and Web Development.

COULD LEAD TO OVERTIME AND UNPLANNED SPENDING

In addition to having to worry about employees taking advantage of flexible hours and working an hour a day before heading to the gold course, employers also need to be mindful of employees inadvertently working overtime. According to research conducted at the University of Kent in the UK, people with control over their schedules have a tendency to work longer hours, regardless of the level of influence or job type involved. While this isn’t a concern for exempt employees, nonexempt employees that work overtime can cost an employer money it did not plan to spend.

HOW TO MANAGE FLEXIBLE WORK SCHEDULES

While the points above are enough to make employers want to avoid flexible scheduling options, there are ways to mitigate the problems of allowing employees to make their own schedules. 

ESTABLISH GUIDELINES

It takes a solid foundation of managing expectations, tools, and processes for flexible work arrangements to work. Employers should clarify expectations about scheduling transparency and hold employees accountable for maintaining the schedules that they have set for themselves. Managing creative work arrangements can vary from company to company. To avoid confusion and streamline policies, make sure to document and circulate the terms and conditions across the entire organization.

ENCOURAGE CONSISTENT COMMUNICATION

Communication is essential in any work environment. It is important to set expectations for how work will be organized and executed through ongoing communication. While face-to-face meetings do have their benefits, at the very least, it is important for employees to keep consistent communication between each other. This can be done through the virtual meeting and collaboration platforms discussed earlier like Skype, Google Duo, and Slack. Consistent communication with employees can help managers track progress and share information quickly.

FIND A WAY TO TRACK, ASSESS, AND UPDATE EMPLOYEE SCHEDULES

If businesses allow employees to have control over their scheduling, they need to have an effective solution in place that allows them to track, assess, and update employee schedules as needed. A great way to do this is through an employee scheduling software that will offer schedule tracking and management, task assignment, and other features that will allow employers to properly assess their employees.

If you have employees you can trust, flexible work schedules can be great for employee retention, happiness, and productivity. However, it’s up to employers to do their due diligence and determine what type of work schedule is ideal based on the goals of their company and have the proper technology and management tools, such as employee scheduling software. The best employee scheduling software will help streamline employee time-tracking and schedule management to ensure that everyone is working all their required hours.

SCHEDULING+’S ONLINE TIME CLOCK APP CAN HELP YOUR BUSINESS WITH EMPLOYEE TIME TRACKING AND TASK MANAGEMENT

Every business that allows flexible scheduling needs to have some sort of scheduling management software. There is no point in spending hours setting schedules the old fashioned way — either with a spreadsheet or a pen and paper — when it can be done quickly using a user-friendly application. With Scheduling+’s employee scheduling app, both employees and employers will save time and become more productive. The easy-to-use online time clock app allows employees to clock in and out on their mobile devices or computers and switch shifts with co-workers when necessary — it really is the complete employee scheduling and task management solutions If you are interested in learning if Scheduling+ can help your business, contact us today!