Should organizations bid adieu to the traditional nine-to-five workday and instead opt for more flexible work schedules? According to University of Oxford academic Dr. Paul Kelley, the answer is yes. He believes a rigid nine-to-five schedule feels unnatural to the human body, and in turn, makes workers “miserable and sleep-deprived.” And study after study shows employees with flexible work arrangements are more productive, more engaged, healthier, happier, and less likely to want to change jobs.
Flex hours that better match employees’ circadian rhythms and “productive hours” may be the key to truly putting in a full day’s work—one that creates value and job satisfaction for all. Keep reading for several other benefits of flexible work conditions.
The advantages of a flexible schedule
- Increase productivity: According to a survey of HR professionals by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 91 percent believe flexible schedules have a positive impact on organizations. Improvements to customer service, employee engagement and quality of work are all associated with flexibility. In fact, Harvard Business Review® names it the key to success.
But success with flexible scheduling starts with defining goals and expectations. Doing so ensures employees have a clear understanding of what they’re supposed to be doing and by when. Weekly check-ins or daily touch-base meetings among department members help ensure everyone is on the same page, deadlines are met and office coverage is accounted for (if applicable).
- Recruit qualified candidates: Working nine to five is no longer the way to make a living. In fact, this type of work schedule may be preventing qualified candidates from applying with your company. A recent Inc. article stated that inflexible hours can leave employees “ … starved for time, both for themselves and for their families.” And SHRM recommends employers view workplace flexibility as more than a productivity management tool—it’s also an employee benefit that may attract competent, qualified candidates.
Be sure to include flexible scheduling as a perk on your website, in job postings and in recruitment materials—bend-a-pens and flexible phone stands enhance your message and make great additions to your recruitment packets. Interviews are another great time to discuss the ins and outs of your flexible work conditions.
- Improve employee wellness: Rigid schedules that don’t take into account employees’ natural sleep rhythms and productive hours are not only bad for business, they can be bad for employees’ wellness, too. Heart health, blood pressure and sleep may suffer. Increased healthcare costs and lost time for sick days can also result.
Flexibility allows employees to stay home when sick and to spend time with family and friends and participate in non-work activities when well—both of which result in employees who are refreshed, rested and ready for work.
Remember, no two employees are alike, so be sure to ask what types of flexibility each values most. A survey is a great way to solicit feedback. Consider asking employees to rate on a scale of one to five which flexible attributes are most valuable to them. You can encourage participation with small rewards for feedback, too, perhaps with a set of company logo’d ear buds or a stylus pen.
And finally, be sure to clearly communicate in your employee handbook any policies or procedures relating to flexibility. Include everything from office coverage to acceptable use of remote communication tools. Promote thoughtful Q&A during policy training with prizes for participation or an entry into a drawing for a Bluetooth® keyboard or mouse.
Say goodbye to the rigid nine-to-five workday and hello to increased productivity, quality staff and improved employee health.
“Leveraging Workplace Flexibility for Engagement and Productivity.” SHRM.org. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 29 Dec. 2015.