Work-life balance is increasingly important to employees. As a result, flexible hours are becoming a highly sought-after benefit in workplaces.

Understand the Term “Flex Hours”

Flex hours can refer to several distinct ways of working. The term can mean employees having a schedule that falls outside of the regular 9-to-5 office day. A working day that runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. is a flexible schedule; so is one that runs from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. The term can also refer to compressed schedules, where employees work long days of 10 hours or so four times a week, and take the fifth day off. Finally, flex hours can also refer to employees who telecommute from home, who work either 9 to 5 or a flexible schedule.

Why Employees Want Flex Hours

Employees desire flexible hours because they can provide a better work-life balance. For those with family responsibilities, it can make child care or picking up children from school much more convenient. For those with long commutes, telecommuting can save both time and money spent on gas.

Employers Can Benefit …

Offering flexible hours can benefit employers as well as employees. Because flex hours are popular, they can boost morale. That can make for a happy, contented workplace.

As a result, retention becomes easier. Turnover may decline, which improves both your productivity and hiring expenses. Absenteeism will likely fall as well.

…but There Are Potential Drawbacks

Obviously, you must have a business that is conducive to flex hours. A warehouse assembly team likely needs all hands on deck at certain hours. But computer programming, on the other hand, is more likely to work out well on flexible hours, because the work can be done at any time.

If you try to provide flexible hours in a business where people need to physically work together at certain times, flex hours aren’t likely to work well.

Another drawback? Scheduling can become more time-consuming for managers. So can working with employees. Team meetings may be more challenging if part of the team isn’t around or is off-site.

Managers need to choose employees who are given flexible hours with care. Working on an unusual schedule or from home requires self-starters with a high degree of responsibility. You need people who can stay on task and productive whether there are supervisors around or not. If an employee doesn’t work out on a flexible schedule, it can be challenging to manage.

A final drawback can be the challenges faced by non-flex-time employees. They may find their work more difficult or more time-consuming if other employees have flexible hours. Communication with fellow employees may be harder. Some employees may resent their colleagues getting flex hours.

Making a Decision

Because there are both advantages and disadvantages, providing flex hours shouldn’t be undertaken lightly. If you decide to offer them, be sure to do so transparently and fairly.

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