Work life balance is one of the most important topics for today’s job seekers and at the front of their mind is flexible scheduling.
“Studies by the Families and Work Institute (FWI) show over two-thirds of employees feel they don’t have enough time for themselves (64%), their spouse (67%), or their children (73%). Those numbers drop among those with a high level of workplace flexibility to 51% (self), 57% (spouse), and 66% (children). Low wage employees are the most time-starved.” – Sharlyn Lauby, Mashable
Flexible scheduling (Flexible start andend times, work from home options, etc) allows workers to plan their home life schedules more easily knowing that their work life schedule is flexible. And it’s not just for the benefit of moms, either. Some companies actually prefer to offer employees a flexible schedule because it allows them to recruit top talent from a larger pool of people, rather than just people who live within a 30 miles radius of their office.
What about productivity?
A downside is that, for many positions, it’s very hard to measure the productivity of work-from-home employees. Developers and programmers who spend most of their time in a solo quiet setting at their desk in the office anyway, would be very easy to measure because you can see the output each day. Whether they are at a desk in-office or at a desk at-home doesn’t really make much difference.
James Liang, cofounder of travel website Ctrip, did a study with his call center workers where he gave half of the employees the ability to work from home for 9 months; The other half had to stay in office as a control group. Surprisingly, the study revealed that the at-home workers were happier, less likely to quit and more productive.
Aside from everything else, it’s really the results that matter, right? As long as the employer is getting the results they want, the face time is far less important. At least, that’s what Cali Ressler, author of “Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It” and co-founder of ROWE (Results-Only Work Environment) says, “Working within a ROWE means you are clear about your goals and measures, and you’re using common sense to approach them in ways that will be most productive and efficient for the customer. Retail and hospitality employees, just like employees in any other industry, must be focused on their customers’ or guests’ needs and satisfy them in order to keep receiving a paycheck. Restaurants, hotels, corporate offices, hospitals, schools, zoos — any entity that employs people — needs to ensure they are paying those employees for results not simply for putting in time.”
Can all positions work with flexible scheduling?
No. Workplaces with a high focus on teams will find this approach to be difficult as all the team members would need to be in the office at the same time. However, with proper planning, it is possible to have “core times” in which employees have to be in office or certain days that employees can take off that doesn’t affect team goals. It really just depends on how much effort a company wants to put in to this benefit… and how beneficial the employees see this perk. Additionally, workplaces that have low moral might have a hard time implementing flexible schedules because employees aren’t motivated (such is what happened with Yahoo! causing them to ban work from home schedules).
What benefits are there for employers?
As mentioned above, the ability to recruit from a larger pool of talent is a great benefit. One other benefit is the possibility of less rented office space. If employees don’t have to be there every day, offices with shared desk spaces could save a lot on rent. In Ctrip’s case, they would save about $1900 per employee per year on average. Aside from that, employees may be happier which means slower turnover, which is never a bad thing.
Have you ever worked in a flexible scheduling work environment? If so, did you feel that you had good work life balance?
Let us know in the comments below!