Flexible Work Arrangements

Flexible work schedule or ‘flex time’ has become a popular working arrangement among most companies. Both employer and employee benefit from this work schedule. It improves job satisfaction and productivity, while at the same time reduces stress and burnout from office work.

It also minimizes absenteeism among coworkers and allows for a balance between work and personal life. More significantly, it serves as a recruitment tactic for small companies, as flex time offers non-traditional work schedules.

Here are some of the more popular flex work schedules at present:

Flex time: A range of starting and ending times in a workday are offered to employees. There is a required ‘core’ time in the middle of the day.

Compressed work week: Employees get to work for 40 hours in less than five days. For example, a 10-hour, four-day work week is employed by the company. Another alternative work plan would be a two-week schedule where employees would be made to go to work for only nine days out of the expected ten.

Telecommuting: Employees are allowed to work away from the office, while still following an approved schedule. They can work in the comfort of their own homes or in wherever distant location, provided they are equipped with the necessary work tools.

Part-time work/ Job sharing: Employees get to work for less hours and are given a choice of sharing the workload with a co-employee. Both of them may share the same job position, thereby dividing the work responsibility between them.

Employers should also be well aware of common problems encountered when adapting such flexible work plans. Here are some of the usual problems and situations and their corresponding solutions:

First some individuals or job positions may not be conducive to a flexible arrangement. Employees who don’t have the ability to work independently may not be suitable for telecommuting.

Also employees who are not that equipped with the necessary physical and emotional stamina may not be able to keep up with the longer hours required in a compressed work week. Employees’ work conducts and individual history should be reviewed so as to know if they could confirm to the demands of a different work arrangement.

Second, work arrangements like telecommuting could result to less business and social communication between co-workers and their supervisors. Interaction with employers in telecommuting should not be limited to emails or instant messages.

Phone contact, especially with supervisors, should also be done regularly. Flex staff, or those working on a flex schedule, should be involved in staff meetings as well so that they would not feel alienated from their co-workers and superiors.

Flex programs may also require a continual process of improvement and development, especially those which are newly-implemented. At some time, employers may not be able to monitor, assess and update such flex work plans. When initiating a new work arrangement, it would be advisable for the pilot plan to be adjusted to a limited time frame.

Employees are advised to give feedback to such adjustments in the work schedule. Provided that the plan proves unsuccessful in the long run, then management can choose to return to the traditional working arrangement.

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