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Pros and Cons of Flexible Work Hours
Should you give your workers more control?

With more employees working from home and juggling their kids in virtual school, you might be considering offering flexible hours to accommodate everyone’s unique needs. Take a look at these pros and cons before you make a final decision.

Pro: Employee control

You control a lot of parts of your employees’ careers, from workload to deadlines. If you give your staff more control over when they complete their tasks, it goes a long way to making them feel more empowered. HR and management consultant Susan M. Heathfield writes for The Balance that this control can fuel your more entrepreneurial team members, as it picks up one of the best perks of working for yourself. She also says that giving employees more options helps to prevent burnout. If they hit a wall, they possibly could take a short break instead of plowing through and producing inferior work.

Con: Communication misses

When all of your employees are in the same place at the same time, it’s easy to know how to reach them. You might be able to head over to someone’s work station, or send them an email for a quick response. However, when flexible work hours come into play, it can make collaboration or fast answers more difficult to achieve. Some associates might want to talk to coworkers when they’re not yet in the office, and might be annoyed by emails that arrive when they’re not on the clock.  Lanie Petersen of the Houston Chronicle notes that this time barrier between your staff can frustrate them and impact performance, which could lead to stalled projects.

Besides irritating fellow employees, flexible workhours can cause conflict for customer-facing staff. Your clients might not be too happy that their main point of contact has different hours every day that they have to remember for quick results. Heathfield points out that these types of roles might not be the best for flexible hours, along with other hands-on positions like those in nursing or manufacturing.

Pro: Benefits working parents

If your office employs parents, offering a flexible work schedule could go a long way towards their job satisfaction. Heathfield warns that if parents work at home they should still use childcare to make sure they can focus on the task at hand. However, flexible work hours could be used so that one parent starts early while the other gets the kids ready for the day. Later, the early parent would get out of work around the time that the school bus drops the kids off. With families that have kids in school full-time, this could effectively eliminate childcare costs, Heathfield notes.

Con: Measuring accountability

When your staff doesn’t work in the office at the same time as you (or in the building at all), it can be harder to keep track of what they’re doing. This is especially true when they’re at home, as Heathfield reports that it’s not too hard to keep your work email account nearby why you catch up on chores or television. While sometimes you can catch unproductive employees in the act when you share a workplace, it can be harder to pinpoint problems until deadlines are already missed or customers are upset. Before you give your staff a flexible work hour privilege, consider what you’ll do to chart their progress and keep them accountable.

Offering flexible work hours is a big step that requires a lot of trust. Make sure you think it through before you roll out a program.


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