When the pandemic shuttered businesses and sent everyone home, it created a huge wave in the world of work for both companies and employees. People who had spent the past 10, 20, or even 25 years going to the office every day, heading into their second-shift factory maintenance job, or working in customer-facing positions in the retail and service industries were now suddenly left with no job to go to, wondering what was going to happen next.
Naturally, some companies faltered. Many smaller endeavors, unfortunately, found themselves having to fold and walk away before things got worse, while some smaller outfits harnessed the power of their small size to create a remote work environment that worked. Regardless of the size of the business or its exact niche, the pandemic has taught everyone a valuable lesson:
People can work from home, efficiently, if their position allows it.
For example, you are not going to have that second-shift maintenance employee doing maintenance from home—that’s just impossible. During the pandemic shutdown, these employees were essentially furloughed and told to await word of reopening. Plenty of employees, however, embraced working from home due to the nature of their role and position.
It’s not just one group of workers benefiting, either. Outside sales reps, call center agents, and customer service teams—essentially, anyone who can do their job in the same capacity from a remote location as they would in the office falls into the category of those who would benefit from this option.
No one wants to “make light” of the pandemic or its effects on the world around us. However, if companies are going to continue to grow and thrive, they must seek out and embrace the silver lining in all of this—the success of flexible scheduling.
What is Flexible Scheduling?
As a general term, this applies to any schedule that offers flexibility in hours, shifts, days, etc. Every company will have its policies and guidelines in place. The pandemic created a situation where employers realized many people don’t need to be sitting at a desk from 8 am to 5 pm to do their job effectively. Some employers are balking, but others are seeing the reduced overhead costs of paying someone to be on the job if it’s not necessary. The expenses of salary, equipment, utilities, etc. can all add up in the office, and even in the home office. However, companies have started seeing a trend that’s changing how efficient and effective workers are on the job.
Flexible scheduling is any type of schedule that’s not strictly structured. For example, an office with a strict schedule of 8 to 4 for all employees is not flexible. Another office that offers employees the choice of 8 to 4 or 10 to 6 is starting to get flexible with scheduling. The real “flex” scheduling, though, is letting the employee completely decide what type of schedule works best for them. For many, that means earning a salary instead of hourly pay and only working when there is work to be done.
For example, if an organization has content creators that create written and visual content for marketing campaigns, they probably don’t need to sit at a desk for eight straight hours cranking out content. They might be working on a pressing project and want to work over the weekend, or they may just be able to get things done on their own time because “office hours” don’t affect their role. That’s true flexible scheduling and it’s becoming popular for employers and employees alike.
The Benefits of Flex Scheduling
The biggest benefit here is the cost savings to the organization—you’re no longer paying for the daily operations of a business for a certain amount of hours, many of which people spend scrolling through social media, chatting around the coffee pot, or just sitting at their desks, waiting for work to come in. Of course, there are several other benefits to be had, including:
- Building trust. When you tell employees that they get to work on their terms, that says you trust them to do their job and as such, you don’t need to be in charge of how many hours they work or which hours they choose to work. In return, companies usually see better performance and engagement.
- Accountability. Again, organizations are giving people the chance to determine when and how they work best. That gives them ownership of, and accountability for, their role in the organization. Along with improving performance, it also boosts confidence and shows employees that they are more than just a cog in the wheel.
- Better performance. When employees aren’t forced into arbitrary working hours and stuck sitting waiting for the time to pass, they are going to perform better when they are working. They’ll take advantage of being able to get work done and then call it a day, and they will be less disengaged because they’re not sitting around bored or feeling “trapped” in a completely unnecessary set schedule.
- Less absenteeism. Believe it or not, some people take days off just because they’re tired of clocking in and going through the motions. They might call in “sick,” but the only thing they’re sick of is having these endless arbitrary work hours when they could be working in a much more flexible fashion. Open up flex scheduling and watch how absenteeism goes down significantly.
The Bottom Line
It’s not to say that flex scheduling is the answer to all of an organization’s problems with performance. However, it’s been a highlight of the pandemic and the new world of remote work that is getting a lot of attention. That is why it’s important to consider what it offers and understand just how many benefits there are to be had. Organizations that embrace flex scheduling when and where they can, will see several improvements. Employee performance being among the first and most beneficial of them.