Should Companies Let Employees Create Their Own Working Hours?
Flexible working hours are becoming increasingly more popular, with some experts declaring the death of the 9 to 5 business day. By 2025, 75% of working people will be millennials and 70% of them want to be able to work more flexibly. Businesses are staring to adapt to these needs, with some allowing employees to create their own working hours.
It’s important to understand whether these practices will be right for each individual company, the people, and their roles. Every situation will be different and may require a unique approach. However, there can be many benefits to flexible working schedules, both for the business and the employees themselves.
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If some employees are working earlier or later than the typical 9 to 5 business hours, then services can be more available to customers. As long as employees’ flexitime schedules are planned in advance – for example, if it is known that an employee will be working 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday – businesses can be open to customers who need to speak to someone outside of business hours. This mean that businesses can run for longer hours overall and can also improve customer satisfaction.
Whilst this suits clients who may also work earlier or later, it can cause problems with customers who expect to be able to reach someone between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. Companies should work with their employees to work out the best schedule to suit everyone, including what is needed for their specific roles. Some positions might not be able to allow for the employee to fully choose their own working hours, but it might be possible to make some accommodations.
Maximise Individual Energy Cycles
Different people have varying energy cycles and will be more productive at different times of the day. Allowing employees to plan their own hours can capitalise on this. If some team members are early birds, allowing them to start work when others are just getting out of bed could mean they’re more productive. Similarly, permitting employees who might be night owls to work in the evenings could mean a company gets better work from them. It will also mean employees will be happier as they won’t have to struggle to produce work at times that they aren’t suited to.
A potential problem with people working different hours is that it makes collaborative working very difficult. A company may prefer to implement core hours where everyone will be working at the same time, for example, between 11am and 3pm, or specific days of the week. This way people will be available at the same time so can have meetings and work together, whilst still accommodating their most productive working times.
Increase Job Satisfaction
Employees that have been able to implement flexible working hours report a higher level of job satisfaction. Those with improved job satisfaction often show a higher commitment to the company, staying in their role longer. This reduces staff turnover for the business, so the company spends less time and money on recruiting and training new staff.
Plus, if employees are commuting into the office at different times to the bulk of the workforce they can avoid long and stressful journeys. Public transport and traffic will be much quieter outside of rush hour, so employees on flexible working schedules will be able to start their day less fatigued and stressed. Employees with high job satisfaction have also shown to be more motivated and put more effort into their work, resulting in better outcomes.
Better Work-Life Balance
Employees working flexible hours are less prone to stress and burnout thanks to a better work-life balance. They are able to plan their days to a schedule that suits them and avoid getting overwhelmed trying to juggle daily life. Burnout symptoms include feeling exhausted, negative attitudes towards work and a decrease in competence. So, by allowing employees to plan their working hours they can keep a healthy mind and work more productively.
However, companies should still watch for signs of burnout, even when using flexible working schedules. When working outside the usual business hours, some employees could end up working longer hours, starting too early or finishing too late. This is especially prevalent with employees who are working from home and there is less distinction between work life and home life. Companies should encourage employees to switch off when they need to, so they don’t suffer from occupational burnout.
Reduce Absence Rates
Flexible working can reduce absence rates in a business. Not only does it reduce the risk of employees falling ill due to burnout, but it can give employees the opportunity to better manage any long-term health conditions. So, as well as the benefit this brings to employees, business will be able to run more efficiently, reducing the need for team members to have to cover others’ work last-minute.
A recent study showed that the most common cause for long-term absence from work was related to mental health and the second most common cause was due to stress. Allowing employees to create their own working hours can go some way in helping them to reduce anxiety and stress, supporting their mental wellbeing and mental health.
If employees aren’t all working in the office at the same time, businesses can save money by reducing office space. This is also applicable to companies that might have employees who work from home, either full time or as part of hybrid working practices. Companies can also save money on the amount of office furniture and equipment that’s required in the office, if it’s known that not everyone will be in at the same time.
One thing to consider is whether the business is likely to need to have core hours for employees. If all staff members will be in the office together at some point, even if it’s just for a few hours a day, everyone will still need their own workstation.
Attract New Employees
Businesses that implement flexible working schedules will be much more attractive to new recruits. They’ll demonstrate that they take their employer duty of care seriously, considering employee’s needs and trusting them to work efficiently.
Flexible working practices can mean a business is able to improve the diversity of the workforce, with no-one being shut out because they can’t or don’t want to work the usual 9 to 5 day. The business can be open to all potential employees, whether that’s experienced people looking for a role that can accommodate family life, recent graduates who are used to working to their own schedule, or older professionals wanting a change in their working week.
Employee’s expectations are changing and many are now looking specifically for roles that can offer flexible hours. By accommodating individual needs, the best talent can be recruited. Companies with flexible working policies offer a significant benefit to potential employees over those businesses that require everyone to work to a strict 9 to 5 timetable.
A concern with flexible working is that managers might not be able to monitor their staff as well if they’re working different schedules. However, this can be an opportunity to improve communication between staff members. Managers should make the most of core hours to check in with their staff and make sure they’re happy and working efficiently.
Communication can also be improved between the employer and the employees. Employers will find that their staff find them more approachable, as they have demonstrated they are happy to listen to employee needs. There will be less distance between the employer and employee, making for a happier workforce overall.