Flexible schedules

Find our definition & what you need to know below

Flexible work schedules. It's an idea that used to only exist for remote workers. It was the luxury of fields like digital marketing, content writing, and even accounting. But now, it's becoming commonplace in traditional workplaces. 

Companies across various industries are seeing value in offering workers a flexible work schedule. But what does a flexible work schedule look like? And how do you know it's right for your business? Let's find out.  

What is a flexible schedule?

A flexible work schedule enables workers to choose their own schedules and work-life balance. The goal is to create a flexible workplace that caters to different lifestyles. And it can work in both full-time and part-time scenarios. 

Under a flexible schedule, workers decide what hours they work each day and week (and even where they work). For example, an employee with children may choose to work evenings on the weekend when there's no school. And during the day on weekdays when there is school. 

Another worker may choose to work from home in the evenings three days out of the week. And then come into the office in the morning two days a week. 

What are flexible work schedule examples?

Flexible work schedules vary based on the industry, role, and employee. For instance, a customer service rep with kids may want to split up their day around their availability. So if they work part-time remotely, they might work Monday-Thursday, from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., take a long break, and work again from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Then they’ll pick up the rest of their hours on Saturday from 4:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

An employee that decides to work in the office may choose to work a four-day work week (10 hours per day). And another may opt to work in the office 12 hours per day, three days per week. 

There are many ways you can design a flex schedule. For example, you can have employees:

  • Work remotely part-time

  • Work remotely full-time

  • Split work hours into blocks throughout the day (like the above example)

  • Work every day for a few hours or lots of hours a few days a week

  • Work in the office full-time but on different days and hours each week

  • Come in and leave whenever you choose (as long as tasks are completed on time)

Flex work schedules also work for non-employees. For instance, you can have teams that are contractors doing gig or temporary work.

Why flexible schedules are important

The idea of adopting flexible schedules may seem intimidating, especially if you've only operated under traditional office hours (Mon-Fri, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). But allowing employees to have freedom over when and where they work comes with benefits. 

Here's a brief overview of why allowing flexible work options is essential

Increases employee retention

Businesses with happy employees thrive the best. It becomes easier to retain workers, and productivity levels soar. For example, one study shows happy workers are 13% more productive

And one way to make your employees happier is to offer flex work schedules. A 2018 survey found 80% of American workers prefer jobs with flexible schedules. And some are even willing to reduce their pay by 8% in exchange for flexible work options. Flex schedules also help workers sleep better, feel healthier, and have less stress than 9-to-5 workers. 

Overlook this, and it could potentially hurt your organization. Roughly 30% of employees admitted to leaving a company for another that offered flexible work options. So you can risk ignoring it. 

Attracts top talent to your company

When you're hiring new employees, you want to find the best of the best. But this is challenging when you have competitors snatching up all the great talent. 

One tactic employers use is offering incentives that matter to employees. Like flexible work options. And this is growing exponentially — already, 83% of American businesses have or are planning to adopt a flexible workspace policy. 

So if you want to stand out to top talent, then offering flexible work hours is critical. 

Boosts your productivity levels

We already touched on how flex work options can make your workforce happier. And with happy employees comes higher productivity. But how does flexible work impact productivity levels?

Well, there's evidence that remote workers (on average) work almost one and a half more days each month compared to their in-office counterparts. That's nearly 18 more workdays per year. It appears that employees with more autonomy over their schedules tend to work longer hours (regardless of their job type). 

There's also the distraction factor — in-office employees tend to have 37 minutes worth of interruptions per day. Compare this with the 27 minutes of distractions at-home workers face daily. 

It also refocuses your manager’s attention on what matters most — outcome instead of output. This creates a culture where employees work harder to deliver results instead of worrying about how many hours they sit at a desk. 

The proof's in the numbers — a two-year study proved remote employees work 4.4% more productive than in-office workers. 

Enhances employee engagement

Imagine a workplace where everyone participated and took accountability for projects and tasks. It's a managers' dream. But to get here, you need a system that promotes higher employee engagement. 

How does a flexible work schedule play into this?

Well, it's all about workplace culture. Time and time again, we see workers more motivated to work when they're given leeway. For example, look at the unlimited vacation policy. At one point, employers were afraid workers would abuse the rule. And as it turns out, companies that implement this claim most employees rarely take time off (not a good thing, but it proves the point). 

It's almost like reverse psychology. You give employees autonomy to choose when, where, and how they work. And they'll strive to create the ultimate setup, which increases their determination and productivity. 

When you have engaged employees, they're less likely to miss days of work, show up late, or quit. This translates to lower turnover rates and higher career longevity. Having staff for a long time increases their institutional knowledge, which is always a plus for promoting from within. 

Reduces overhead costs

Flexible work options offer cost-savings on both sides:

  • Employers can reduce spend on office space and supplies. One report shows employers can save $11,000 per half-time telecommuter annually. 

  • Workers can also cut costs on gas, transportation, work clothing, and lunch expenses. 

Then as a bonus, it reduces the company's carbon footprint, which is another way to improve your brand's image (and attract customers and top talent). 

How do I create a flexible work schedule?

Adopting flexible work schedules is a win-win because it enables your employees to choose their most productive times. But how do you organize it, so things continue to run optimally? Here are several things to keep in mind:

  • Communicate expectations. Set clear goals to keep your staff productive and working cohesively towards a common purpose.  

  • Use communication tools. When you have a mix of in-office and remote workers, it's critical to have tools that promote teamwork and communication. 

  • Adopt project management tools. Tracking everyone's progress ensures tasks get done on time (and keeps team members accountable). 

  • Offer training and support. Having a robust training plan will make it easier to get new hires onboard. Encourage them to ask questions and have team leaders available to offer support. 

  • Track time. Not to dominate when people work, but to ensure no one's getting burnt out. Preventing burnout is still vital, especially knowing employees with flex schedules tend to overwork.

You'll also need to determine what type of flexible work options you want to offer:

  • Flextime. Allows workers to choose when they work each week (based on personal needs), as long as it reaches a weekly or daily number of hours. 

  • Compressed workweek. Enables employees to work a standard 40-hour workweek but in fewer days (i.e., 4 days a week, 10 hours per day). 

  • Shift work. Allows your business to operate 24/7 by assigning day and night shifts to workers (works well when you have global teams). 

  • Part-time. Allows employees to select their hours and days for workweeks demanding less than 40 hours. 

  • Job-sharing. Uses two employees to perform the tasks of a single full-time position. The responsibilities are divided between both. 

Once you have everything in place, you'll need reliable software to manage flexible work scheduling. Deputy is a platform HR managers use to create all sorts of schedules within minutes. Once you have your flex schedule created, you can share it instantly with your team. Then if someone calls in sick (or requests time off via the app), it's seamless to find a replacement. 

Deputy is also a time-tracking tool, which is useful to manage productivity (and keep burnout in check). It's a platform designed to keep your team organized and engaged, all in a single app. 

Our platform even integrates with systems like ADP, QuickBooks, and BambooHR (to name a few). 

If you'd like to get started creating flexible work options for your teams, then give Deputy a try today.