With the past pandemic and the advancement of technology, many known companies have adopted a flexible working schedule.
It’s no longer only for freelancers and artists as now it’s an option for several positions in the workforce. In fact, it’s been reported that over 60% of full-time employees are already working flexibly.
So, there is no doubt that with time, it will continue to be a desired requirement from companies.
Although there is an abundance of content in regards to all the benefits that come with it, you should also understand the consequences.
Like everything in life, it has its strengths and its weaknesses.
What is a flexible work schedule?
The concept of flexible working is significantly broad. It can be defined somewhat differently depending on the person or company. There are also other keywords that describe it, for example, “agile working” or “smart working.
For us, a flexible work schedule can be defined as a working pattern that is not mandatory to fit into the traditional 9 to 5 weekdays. Flexible work can be implemented in both part-time and full-time positions. Meaning that although you can choose when you work, you still have to complete the required amount of hours.
The main concept of flexible work is that you have the right to choose how to schedule your working hours. For example, you could choose to work earlier or later during the day, depending on other responsibilities. Or, you might prefer to split your hours throughout the week. For example, working more hours on one day and less on others.
The easiest way to understand flexible work is by seeing it as an agreement between the company and the employee. Where 3 aspects are taken into consideration:
- They can choose where they work from
- Possibility to create a work schedule that works best
- Schedule their workday however they want
Why do people prefer flexibility?
As previously mentioned, there are several reasons why more and more companies are allowing for flexible work. Some of the main advantages are:
Improve employee retention
It’s been proven in many studies that providing a flexible working schedule not only increase the retention of your current employees but also when acquiring new ones. A survey done in 2018 found that 80% of workers would prioritise a job offer that allows flexibility.
Not only, but it was also shown that 35% of respondents would prefer to have a flexible working schedule over additional vacation time. If that isn’t enough it has also been proven that employees would accept a lower title or position and even take a lower salary just to have the freedom of their own time.
Increases employee engagement
Having a reputable business doesn’t only refer to what you bring of value to your market but it's also about being a great company to work in. For these reasons, having positive employee engagement is essential for many.
One of the most successful ways to empower employees is flexible working. Not only do you provide them with the freedom of adapting their work schedule to their personal life but also provides a sense of respect and trust.
Which as you can imagine, increase positive feelings and motivation towards their responsibilities and the company overall. This then pays off, with fewer days off, or sick leaves, less turnover and improved career longevity.
Provides a cost-effective solution
Another major benefit that flexible work brings to companies is that it’s a cost-effective solution for both sides. For employees, it saves them time and money on commuting expenses, work clothing, meals out and so forth.
While employers save money on their overhead costs. For example, if most employees work from home or choose to be active at different hours, they might as well rent a smaller office. Also, less will go to bills, like electricity and water as fewer people utilise the office.
Disadvantages of a flexible work scheduling
This all sounds great and perfect in theory, but in practice, there is a lot you need to take into consideration when adopting a flexible working arrangement. Structure and well-clarified conditions should be agreed upon and clearly stated.
Can break the work-life boundary
As great as it is to not need to commute to the office and choose when your working hours are, this comes with a major risk. Because there is no longer a defined split on your work and home environment, your work-life balance starts to become distorted.
What has been coming to experts' attention is the tendency that when workers have greater control over their time there is an increase in working hours. Although this might seem to be a benefit, it does tamper with people's wellbeing. This means that it becomes more likely for burnout and exhaustion to be present in the workplace.
As people get the liberty to work at home or at different hours of the day, those who are work-driven might end up working more than the agreed weekly hours. For example, Elon Musk is known to work over 80 hours a week. Also, in the Silicon Valley culture, you’re actually praised for working more.
Although we would all like to be Elon Musk, most of us do not have the same opportunities as him. These types of tendencies can not only affect your mental health and well-being but as you continue to exhaust yourself, the long-term consequences can be quite dire to your performance.
By using Planless you and your team will know exactly what needs to be done. Not only, but Planless will also organize your schedule according to how you wish to work. Want to divide your time between the day? No problem. By using Planless you’ll ensure that your team works at 100% of their capacity, no more, no less.
Decrease in human relations or contact
The idea of community and a sense of belonging has exponentially increased. Now, with the adaption of virtual worlds, better technology and remote work, human-to-human interactions will be vital in the workplace.
As we crave human interaction, creating a happy and engaged workforce is becoming a primary focus for many. Around 90% of survey respondents have agreed that access to community spaces would facilitate a collaborative culture. There is definitely nothing better than having a team that loves working together!
Most importantly, working together helps inspire new ideas and creativity. It’s a lot easier to bounce ideas off each other or even just to have a moment of relaxation and bonding. However, with flexible hours it might be hard to find these safe-havens.
As people work at different hours, some might not have any other team member active at the same. This means that work might become monotonous and depressing. That’s why leaders have to encourage new ways to improve social interactions.
With Planless, for example, you can schedule specific team events that can meet everyone's schedule. In these designated times, convince your team to do anything else but talk about work. You can play games, talk about life and even watch an episode together. For our team, we do our “Party Time” event every Wednesday at 5 pm.
Can tamper with team communication
If communication was already crucial before, when we all went to the office for the same fixed amount of time, you can imagine its importance in flexible work. Already it’s been stated that over $30 billion is lost in productivity due to poor communication.
If it can be quite challenging to have a constant flow of information between team members, doing so when people work at different hours makes it even more complex. The likelihood of important details being lost increases significantly. This has already been reported as a problem for many fully remote teams. Most importantly it’s a challenge for managers to keep track of what each team member is working on and their progress.
So how do you ensure that you and your team are on the same page when working different hours? The foundation for this is implementing structure and transparency when communicating with your team.
Make sure you plan your meetings, knowing exactly what the agenda will be and those important topics are addressed with the right people. Remember, over-communicating can also cause problems, as it ends up becoming a time waster and can exhaust your team.
Using a tool like Planless allows you to keep track of every responsibility you and your team have. You can have full visibility on what projects are being worked on, their progress and their likelihood of completion. Having all this information in one place can also boost a sense of trust and accountability between members.
Increased distractions and procrastination
It’s true that most studies have shown an increase in productivity and motivation with flexible hours. However, there has also been an increase in procrastination due to more distractions.
As you get the freedom to work whenever and wherever you want, you might fall into the tendency of choosing locations that aren’t great for fostering productivity. For example, you might work in a busy cafe where there is a lot happening around you. Or with a group of friends where you just can’t help yourself to catch up on the latest updates.
For many with families, it involves taking care of children or even pets while trying to simultaneously complete tasks. Some might even watch TV, do chores or talk on the phone during their chosen working hours.
Studies have shown that working parents already faced distractions every 25 minutes, while remote-working parents had it even worse. They were distracted 10% more than their office counterparts and 50% more than remote workers without children.
Planless can readjust your schedule depending on if tasks are running smoothly or not. If you accidentally had a less productive day Planless will reorganise your time to ensure that you still meet every important deadline. Also with the use of AI, you’ll be able to track your performance and better understand if the flexible life is right for you.