Is your flexible work policy a little too flexible? Gauging the effectiveness of your current flexible work policy (or lack thereof) can be challenging because there are many confounding factors, and it requires testing of all kinds. Turning employees into guinea pigs can be dangerous because they may not care for the new policy—or they might like it a bit too much and take advantage.
The digital era has ushered in some surprising trends, with the Society for Human Resource Management reporting that 38 percent of workers with mobile devices start working before their commute and 25 percent work during the commute. An additional 37 percent work during their lunch, 33 percent work after their commute, and 26 percent work after dinner.
To make matters more severe, this is true every single work day. Of course, many also work on their days off. “Flexible” might sound like a win-win for all, but it turns out employees are seemingly working around the clock to accommodate that flexible schedule.
How can you implement a flexible work policy that’s healthy and positive for your business and your employees?
It’s not just mobile devices that have changed how employees work. There are also generational trends, with younger generations having grown up in the side hustle age when working odd hours—preferably on their own terms—isn’t just the accepted, but encouraged.
Businesses need to respond to all of these changes by providing more flexibility. This can include choosing to work virtually all or some days, allowing employees to customize their arrival and departure times or offering a variety of work-week schedules such as ten-hour days Monday – Thursday with Fridays off.
Knowing what type of flexibility your employees want requires communicating with them and a little trial and error. The latter is where it can get risky. You don’t want to offer virtual work environments for your employees only to stop the policy when it doesn’t work out. Consider job descriptions and employee preference before venturing into this territory, and offer it on a short-term trial basis to see how it works. Remember, these are new waters for everyone and testing is in order.
It’s good practice to create a written document that both the managers and employees agree one and reinforce; consider adding it to your employee handbook. It’s particularly important during the rollout phase because this is a new system for everyone. Employees need to know what’s expected of them, what the flex policy entails, and how to follow it.
However, these policies can’t be stagnant. Instead, they need to be fluid, evolving documents that are regularly revisited, noting successes and failures. Employees should always have a voice in designing these policies since they will be dramatically affected by them.
The type of flexible work arrangement that works for your business and employees will be unique. Get creative. Ask what employees want. In many cases, options to work remotely (for at least part of the time) is a huge draw. Consider this possibility if your employees’ responsibilities don’t require them to be physically present. The option to choose arrival and departure times allows early birds and night owls work around their circadian rhythm while avoiding rush hour.From allowing a four-day work week to offering longer lunches in exchange for extended morning or afternoon hours, the possibilities are endless. Flexible work policy statistics from a study at the University of Minnesota and MIT show that employees with flexible work schedules felt more supported by managers, had enough time to spend with loved ones, and reported higher job satisfaction. Those are some great reasons to consider adding flexi-schedules to any business.