Friday, May 4, 2007

Addressing Employer Concerns about Flexible Work Schedules

Many requests for a more flexible schedule at work are met with skepticism and negativity by managers accustomed to traditional 8 to 5 employees. Effectively addressing employer concerns may help you quickly attain your ideal schedule. Employer concerns may include:

Decreased Productivity: The idea that flex employees are not as productive is a false perception by managers who feel you cannot manage what you cannot see. However, productivity is rarely an issue for flex employees who can take advantage of their own most productive times of the day to get work done. Some of us work best late at night or early in the morning. Working parents can get a lot accomplished during school hours and after bedtimes. Conversely, traditional employees are known to experience regular non-productive periods on Monday mornings and between 3 and 5 each day.
To allay employer fears of unproductive times, set measurable goals that will serve to quantify work completed. These goals should mirror your job description and should not change from goals while working a traditional schedule. Further, schedule a performance review four weeks into your new flex schedule to gauge productivity.

Inaccessibility of Support: Working a flexible schedule may mean working more hours without the support of coworkers and supervision of management. This however, does not necessarily preclude a team work environment. With modern technology, an employee working out of the office or non-traditional hours can be constantly connected to coworkers. Make an effort to be heard each workday either by email or phone even if just to check in on a project or with a client. Make yourself available for regular, in-person staff meetings that can serve as team-building and goal-setting sessions.

Fairness to all Employees: The sentiment, "If I let you work flexible hours, everyone will want special accommodations" may pass through your boss' lips. Truth-be-told, employee have diverse needs - not all employees work well in a flexible situation. However, by allowing the flexibility of scheduling that works well for each employee, companies send a message of acceptance and trust. Also, establishment of flexible scheduling provides a great opportunity for company or department-wide assessment of responsibilities, ensuring that each employee is responsible for the duties they are most comfortable and competent at completing.

Lack of Accountability: A manager concerned about the productivity of employees may also be concerned about the perceived lack of accountability of flex employees who can work away from the office or arrive to work and leave with no one else around. Proving yourself trustworthy may seem tedious and juvenile, but can go a long way in gaining managerial support of a flex schedule. Offer to check in and out by email for a week or two. Handwrite time sheets for your manager to sign each week. Again, communication and specific goal setting can go a long way in proving your trustworthiness on an alternate schedule.

For managers considering flexible scheduling for employees, the fear of the unknown may appear an insurmountable obstacle. To ease fears, propose a pilot program to last a few weeks. Schedule a meeting at the conclusion of the pilot period to discuss its success or failure, any modifications to the plan, and your future schedule. The proof will be in your success. Your manager may just find your productivity and morale greatly improved with a flexible schedule and reclaimed balance in life.


Anonymous said...

since i started my business in 2001i have provided flex-time to my employees. what concerns me is that on snow and bad weather days or kid-illness days, my managers with kids are always taking the day to "work at home" because their wives don't have flex time - so my business is the one that pays and i am the one going around the office making sure that the rest of the staff has work assignments. this is not fair. flex-time is fine if all businessness are plying the same game.

flexibleworkforce said...

Good for you offering the flexible benefits we both agree that all employers should be offering!

It is my opinion that telecommuting should never be an alternative to daycare for young children and there is no problem writing that into your telecommuting contract. Another option is to provide flex time, but require employees to flex back - if an employee leaves two hours early on a snow day, ask for two hours in return at a later date from even your salaried managers.

Thank you for continuing to offer famiy friendly benefits to your managers and other employees. Keep up the good work!

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