Sunday, September 23, 2007

Flex Back: Easing Employers Fears about Flexibility

I recently received the following email highlighting what may be many employer's concerns about offering flexible scheduling benefits to employees:

"Where I work people may ‘work ahead’ putting in, for example 4 extra hours Mon-Thurs. so they can take off for a commitment on Friday afternoon. This is getting out of hand with some employees who propose working 8 extra hours so they can have 3-day weekends. Or, combining the latter plus a day of PTO useage so they can have a 4-day weekend.

Any ideas on how we can draw an easy line to prevent overuse?"

This employer's concerns may be well founded. Every heard the saying, "Give them an inch and they'll take a mile?" However, in an age where flexible scheduling is increasingly used as a recruitment and retention tool, companies and employees alike need to be invested in making any flexible schedule work. An employees expectations of flexible scheduling must then be matched with flexibility of personal time; employees need to be willing to "Flex Back."

Compressed Work Week

The compressed work week attempts to fit the same number of hours into fewer days each week. For example, a 40-hour per week job can worked in four 10 hour days leaving one extra day each week free for personal obligations. Employees who work this type of schedule often designate one day each week to be a flex day - these employees take the same day off every week. So, what happens when a meeting is scheduled on your flex day? Here is a great opportunity for you to show your own flexibility by temporarily changing your flex day. Can you take Thursday instead of Friday off this week? Can you come in for a few hours to be present at the meeting? If not, it needs to be your own responsibility to contribute to the meeting and engage in follow up as required. Ask a coworker to share their notes from the meeting. Double check any action items with your supervisor. And remember, you may be assigned action items during the meeting that you would not have normally volunteered for. Try to make your ability to complete follow up tasks known before the meeting and be ready to take full responsibility for action items, whether by delegating tasks or adjusting your priorities.

Job Sharing

Job sharing involves splitting the responsibilities of one position between two employees. Establishing a work schedule that accommodates two people and various work related projects and deadlines requires great flexibility. The advantage for the employee is of course less time devoted to work obligations leaving more time for personal obligations. If your job includes job sharing responsibilities, be clear about your scheduled availability. Give your boss plenty of notice of your schedule ensuring that coverage for job responsibilities is always available. You can gain flexibility by maintaining great communication with your coworker. As the deadline for a project nears that you have been exclusively working on, offer to pick up more hours to cover any last minute questions are concerns. In return, request a few days off after the conclusion of the project.

Non-Traditional Hours

Non-traditional scheduling provides employees various options - daily flextime includes variable start and end times each day, permanent flex time involves a set non-traditional schedule - anything that varies from the traditional Monday through Friday 8:00 to 5:00 workday. Again communication is key. If your schedule changes week to week, make sure your supervisor and coworkers know when to expect you in the office. Make sure your schedule accommodates deadlines, projects, and meetings. Always ensure coverage of your responsibilities when you are not physically in the office during business hours by assigning a buddy.

Preventing Abuse

Many employers have in place policies to prevent the abuse of flexible scheduling benefits. For example, a company may require that all absences from the office during core business hours, 10:00 am through 3:00 pm be documented up to a month in advance with a plan for coverage of responsibilities. Employers may require attendance of staff meetings or board meetings regardless of employees' schedules. However, the best prevention of abuse can be a corporate culture of flexibility that allows employees the opportunity to flex work and personal schedules to meet the demands of the job. Opportunities to Flex Back are endless - consider sitting in on evening meetings to allow for a day off later in the week, reevaluate your schedule weekly for conflicts, and always keep in close communication with your supervisor.

Businesses that allow flexible scheduling benefits to employees are like gold in the current job market. Remaining flexible with your personal schedule can allow for increased flexibility of your work schedule and a more positive relationship with your employer.

**Opportunities to flex back may be limited by child care situations, personal obligations, etc.**

No comments:

You are free to share, copy, and distribute the content of this page.
Please, always attribute this work to its original author at Flexible Workforce. The best way to do this is with a link to this web page.
You may not use this information for commercial gain or alter, transform, or add to this work in any way.

Flexible Workforce Solutions
State College, PA