The 9-to-5 schedule has been part of how we work for decades — but things are changing fast. Today’s workers are demanding more flexibility in their working hours (often including remote work privileges), and employers are exploring new ways to accommodate these requests.
Naturally, any implementation of flexible hours will require some tradeoffs. The good news is that the benefits can far outweigh them! When debating the pros and cons of flexible hours policies, keep in mind these 10 substantial upsides that your organization could potentially reap.
1. Tools for flexible work are more powerful and widely available than ever.
Technology has given us plenty of new tools for implementing flexible working policies, from time-tracking software to powerful laptop workstations for efficient remote work. Collaboration software makes it easy for employees on different schedules to work together, and team calendar software allows them to schedule flexibly around others’ availability. Building access systems offer flexible but secure entry for on-site work outside normal hours, and e-learning courses make it easy for employees to sharpen their skills even if they’re not around for on-site training.
2. Flexible hours can make employees more satisfied with their jobs.
Studies have found that remote work and flexible schedules can substantially increase employees’ job satisfaction. Satisfied and engaged employees are worth their weight in gold to employers — they’re motivated to do outstanding work, and they drive a positive culture that spreads across offices and departments. If that’s the kind of environment that you want to build for your office, flexible schedules are a great place to start!
3. Flexible hours help improve work-life balance.
Work-life balance is increasingly a top priority for employees across industries, and flexible scheduling can yield big improvements in this area. With more room to reconfigure their schedules, employees will often have more time for personal hobbies, family time, date nights, or simple rest and relaxation. These are the human essentials that help your employees come back to work rested, recharged, and happy.
4. Flexible hours take multiple forms.
Not all flexible hours strategies work for all businesses, and that’s OK. Some companies may genuinely need everyone online during the same workday hours — but there might not be any need for all of these employees to be on-site. Others might offer flextime within an office setting, where employees can arrive and leave earlier or later depending on their needs. Still, other businesses are even experimenting with four-day workweeks! The takeaway: Whatever your business needs are, there’s probably a way to increase the flexibility of working arrangements.
5. Flexible hours help reduce employee commutes.
Ask any in-person employee about their least favorite part of their day, and there’s a good chance they’ll say it’s their commute. In fact, commuting has all kinds of negative effects on employees’ stress levels, so why not help them cut their commute whenever you can? That might mean implementing remote work several days per week, or even permitting flexible office hours that allow employees to avoid rush hour traffic.
6. Flexible hours can make it easier to attract top-notch talent.
The competition to snap up top talent never stops, especially at the top levels, and flexible hours can provide a substantial leg up in enticing the very best. Research has found that autonomy over working hours and locations is a high priority for many job seekers. Thus, if you’re competing for a great employee with another employer who doesn’t provide flexible hours, you could be more likely to win them to your team.
7. Flexible hours help foster diversity and inclusion in hiring.
Another downside of a rigid 9-to-5 is that it frequently prioritizes the needs of people who need the least help. It’s often not workable for people with disabilities, parents without support systems, and other underprivileged people. If you’re serious about making your organization a friendly working environment for people of all races, abilities, and economic classes, flexible working hours are a critical step toward becoming more welcoming.
8. Flexible hours make employees more productive.
Think more hours worked equals more productivity? Think again. Studies have shown time and again that workers are at their best when they’re well-rested and relaxed, and that productivity decreases as working hours get longer. So why keep employees on the clock when they’re not doing their best work? This can also be a boon for employees who are more productive at unusual hours, such as extremely early mornings or late nights.
9. Flexible hours can reduce unnecessary resource expenditures.
Businesses that allow employees to manage their own time and working arrangements often discover that these policies actually make it easier to spot redundancies. For example, a firm of 300 might discover that only around 50 of its employees actually need to be at their workstations from 9 to 5 — and yet, they’re paying for an office that holds many times that. When you can see which resources people actually use, the waste is often right out in the open!
10. Flexible hours ultimately foster greater employee loyalty.
Employee loyalty is absolutely crucial for anyone building a business for the long haul. You need experienced, trusted employees to steer your company through choppy waters — and, according to a FlexJobs survey, employees report that they’re much more likely to remain loyal to an employer who offers flexible hours. When you trust your employees to regulate their own hours and workloads, they’ll often return the favor by trusting you with the future of their careers.
The movement for flexible work is still relatively new, so employers and employees alike should strive for patience and understanding as new systems are worked out. When implemented well, flexible hours can benefit everyone by ensuring that employees can do their best work — all the time.