Nagging Questions: Flexible Work Arrangements

“Nine to five” isn’t necessarily the norm anymore; the Society for Human Resource Management estimates that 48 percent of employers offer some type of flexible work arrangements to employees.

Indeed, nearly half of all Americans are now working under some variation to the traditional workweek. This can include schedule flexibility, such as flex time or job-sharing, or location flexibility, such as telecommuting or hoteling.

It’s a significant issue for recruitment and retention; 64 percent of Millennials want to work from home occasionally, and 66 percent of non-Millennials want flexibility of schedule, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. The Society for Human Resource Management states work/life balance and flexibility can be the most important factors for workers considering job offers.

That doesn’t make it easy to manage. (Recall when Yahoo reversed its work-from-home stance.) Flex time schedules can work really well, but without some kind of policy around them, they can go very badly. Flex time isn’t an excuse for your people to come and go as they please; they should be structured around business needs, reliability and respect.

 A few of our frequently asked flex time questions:

 How do we decide who gets to have a flex time schedule and who doesn’t?

We usually recommend that employers determine (and include on their job descriptions) whether a position is flex time eligible. There are some positions that just aren’t: If you’re in a critical customer service role, and the office hours are between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. and customers know that, then it isn’t practical for you to be there at 6:30 a.m. when the phone isn’t ringing. Other positions might be better able to accommodate that kind of schedule shift.

How do we monitor overtime with folks who work from home?

Flexible schedules or no, this one is always difficult. The only thing you can evaluate with remote employees is whether the work is getting done and done timely, with some parameters around overtime approval. The truth is that if an employee works overtime, you’re required to pay it. But having policy around pre-approval helps.

We want to start a flexible work arrangement program, but we don’t want to mess it up. How do we get started?

The best first step is to develop a policy, because you won’t actually know the pitfalls until you start thinking things through. For instance, what if a proposal is made for an employee to work 40 hours a week, but work it in four 10-hour days. What does a vacation or PTO day look like? Is that 10 hours or eight? Think through all the things that you might encounter as a result of making the accommodation. That way you’ll be more prepared for the curveballs that might come from implementing flex time.

We started flexible work arrangements, and now no one is in the office on Fridays. How can we add some structure in without being jerks?

Policy is your answer. A simple statement in policy saying that all requests will be evaluated against the needs of your business is usually all it takes…and make sure the policy states the flex time privilege can be revoked if it isn’t meeting business needs.

Do you have flex time run amok? Do you need some help with a policy? Contact us today at 855.474.2836.