How to successfully manage Flexible Working Hours

Flexible working hours is a topic that currently trends in popularity regardless of whether people work at the office or remotely. Flexible working hours may be required by your business model or requested by employees to support a better work-life balance. Therefore its crucial companies constantly update its policies and manage the workforce in a new, suitable way.

In this post we will discuss the contemporary definition of flexible working, the different models of flexible working hours and their highlights and pitfalls. Find out relevant laws and regulations, ways of implementing this new working model and how to successfully manage it.

What is flexible working?

In a nutshell, flexible working means that the working hours differ from what most companies consider standard for their start and stop times and the employee is free to choose when, where and for how long they will work.
Flexible working does not necessarily mean working from home. A flexible work schedule is usually defined by how many work hours an employee completes in a week, on a particular day or sometimes, from a particular place.
Traditionally, working hours account for a 40 hour work week, while a flexible working schedule might also represent working less than that. The century old “9 to 5” came as an answer to manage the masses coming in and out of factories, and although still heavily used today, it is a method that is unsuitable in some situations. This is where the flexibility comes in.

Examples of flexible working:

There are various types of flexible working and it can have multiple forms. Companies shape this method as it suits them best. As an employee, make sure you are aware of the company’s policy on flexible working and if it suits your lifestyle. As an employer, make sure that one of these options suits your business model. Here are some examples used across multiple industries that can be used to improve a flexible working policy:

Job sharing

This flexible working model involves two employees that share one full-time position and split the hours. Both work as a team and determine their tasks.

Working from home

This involves doing some or all the work remotely from home or another place which is different from the official place of work.

Part-time

Part-time work means you are working less than a regular full-time job. This can have a reduced number of hours per day or an employee working fewer days in the week.

Compressed hours

Instead of working all normal days, this model allows employees to work full-time hours over fewer days a week.

Flexitime

It is possible to choose the start and end work hours, but it usually has ‘core hours’, such as 8 am to 2 pm every day.

Annualised hours

The annualised hours model means that the employee needs to work a certain amount of hours per year Instead of counting the number of hours an employee works per day or week. It ensures the maximum level of freedom when they work. In this model, the employee may work a few core hours per week and the rest of the hours are flexible and can be used when there is extra demand at work for example.

Staggered hours

The employee doesn’t arrive or leave work in the same hours as the others, but usually have periods of overlap during the workday.

Phased retirement

In this model, employees can choose when they want to retire, so they can reduce their working hours and attend a part-time work schedule.

 

Law on Flexible Working

The law on flexible working varies by country. In the UK, the flexible working policy is clear and accessible to everyone who meets certain criteria. According to the UK government, all employees have the legal right to request flexible working. Note that flexible working rules are different in Northern Ireland.

To be eligible, employees must have been working continuously for the same employer for at least 26 weeks, be legally classified as employees and have not made a request for flexible working over the last 12 months.

The request starts when the employee writes an email or letter to the company as a statutory application. Companies may decide how to deal with such requests but the law mandates that all requests are evaluated and processed within 3 months, or as agreed with the employee.

If agreed, the company renegotiates the terms and conditions with the employee, who has the employment contract amended. Disagreement is possible, where the company outlines the reasons in a formal letter to the requester. The employment tribunal is responsible for settling any disputes in case an agreement cannot be made.

It is strongly recommended, however, to have company guidelines in place for whenever an employee asks for such possibilities and finally makes such requests.

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Benefits of flexible working hours

While companies are still wary of this model, flexible working hours bring several benefits for the employees. Simultaneously, companies profit from such a model by attracting and keeping talent and helping them perform better at work.

Work-life balance

This important aspect of a healthy work environment might be enhanced by flexible working hours. Respecting the employee’s time for leisure activities, to spend time with their family whatever other reason they have for adopting such system makes the company more attractive to high skilled workers;

Productivity

Working flexible hours can help your employees get more productive. Not everybody gives their best at work between the traditional hours of 9 am to 5 pm. By allowing employees to work flexibly, employees are probably going to get the most out of their employers. It can also help them recover and recharge, allowing them to perform better during working hours.

Reduced turnover and absenteeism

Helping employees balance their personal with professional lives can boost your employee morale and commitment. Having a flexible approach will help companies retain existing staff as well as new employees who value flexibility.

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Tracking hours for employees

While flexible working hours might present opportunities for both employers and employees, it might also present a few challenges. One of them is tracking hours for work. Using time and attendance software, which can be a system or application is a good answer to the issue. Using a custom-tailored option might be the answer if your company is looking to measure the impact of the flexible working policy on the company’s productivity. Here are a few benefits of adopting such a system:

  • Define the employee’s working hours and have a clear picture of how many hours they worked
  • Monitor employee’s attendance and compare the real numbers with the expected number of hours an employee is supposed to work
  • Verify if employees have fulfilled their shifts correctly
  • Use a different tracking system per employee
  • Write recommendations on the employee’s timesheet
  • Monitor and pay extra hours

Successfully managing flexible working policies involves effort and a number of cultural factors. Some of them involve determining if this is the right solution for your business, implementing the policy and using the right software to track results. If flexible working hours are in line with your business objectives and provide a valuable benefit to your employees, this might be the way to go. This can help retain talent, make your employees happier and therefore help strengthen your business long term.

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