Flexible Work Schedule: What are the Advantages and Disadvantages?

A flexible work schedule is often preferred by some employees, as it gives them more freedom. While it might be tiresome for some people, for others it’s the perfect way to allow people to work a job and perform some other activities at the same time. Most of the time, such a schedule is available in freelance jobs or startups, but some other employers might agree to it as well.

What is a flexible work schedule?

Flexible work schedules are actually an alternative to the traditional working hours in a week. Most employees work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., performing the 40-hour work week. However, such a schedule allows them to change the coming and leaving hours.

Let’s say that, one day, you have something to do in the afternoon that cannot be postponed. Through a flexible work schedule, you can come to work earlier and thus leave earlier. This also means you can arrive at the office later, in case you have trouble with waking up in the morning. Then, you have to stay at work until later.

Person working from home on a couch

All kinds of alternatives to the traditional 40-hour work week

Through these schedules, you should still fulfill the traditional working week of 40 hours. This means you can also work more hours in a day, and then cut them from the next day. In this case, the working week gets shorter, with four 10-hour days per week. In some cases, employees choose to work 12 hours per day, but this usually happens more rarely.

These flexible schedules are not actually focused on fulfilling a certain number of hours of work per week. They are more common in those kinds of jobs where the work needs to be done. Therefore, these employees can shape their schedule however they like as long as they get their job done.

A flexible work schedule is also common among those employees who telecommute. This means they can undertake their activity somewhere outside the office, and keep in touch with their employer and manager via internet, telephone, or other means of communication. Since these people are not bound to an office, they are also not bound to a strict schedule.

Advantages of a flexible work schedule

These schedules come with a high dose of freedom and flexibility. Of course, they can bring plenty of advantages for both the employee and the employer, increasing the independence of both categories.

Advantages for the employee

A flexible schedule would allow the employee to attend to whatever need arises during the day. They can go see their family if there’s an emergency, meet their children’s teachers, or go to whatever appointment that cannot be rescheduled for the weekend.

In the case of telecommuting, the employee gets to save a lot of money. In big cities, people have to spend a lot of time on the road to get to their offices. During rush hour, people often spend more than an hour on their way to work. If they are given the chance to stay at home, they save both time and money they would have given on gas or public transportation.

Computer screen and office tools on a desk in a home

A flexible work schedule allows the employee to gain more control over their own environment. By working whenever it’s good for them, they can actually achieve more than working during the day. Also, it’s a lot healthier. They choose the hours when they are most productive, thus increasing the chances to achieve more and to avoid burnout. If they feel they can’t get going, they can simply take a break without disrupting the working hours.

In the end, it allows people to spend more time with their children and family. Some employees might shape their schedule so that they spend as few hours as possible away from their kids. This way, they can also save the money they would have spent on a full-time babysitter.

Advantages for the employer

Although it sounds quite unlikely, a flexible work schedule brings benefits to the employer as well. First of all, if they allow their employees to shape their schedules as it’s good for them, they would acquire the image of a great employer. The company image improves, and the turnover rates decrease.

The happier the employees are, the better it is for the employer. If they are satisfied, then it’s easier for them to do their job. Productivity increases, the results are great, and the company prospers. Also, the chances that the employees should recommend the company to others are high.

People working in a office

Disadvantages of a flexible work schedule

Disadvantages for the employee

As mentioned above, working flexibly doesn’t necessarily mean coming to work earlier or later. Sometimes, you don’t get to see your colleagues at all, which is not good for some employees. Some might find it harder to get things done in a non-work environment. This caused many employers to choose certain hours when everyone needs to be in the office.

Working from home is also included in the flexible category, but not everyone gets a grasp on what you are supposed to be doing. Some may regard this activity as not actually working, so some contradictions might arise. If you tell someone you can’t do something for them even though you’re home, they might not understand that you are actually getting work done.

Also, a flexible work schedule might not mean a clear schedule at all. This means that, whenever it’s something that needs doing, you should do it. Therefore, it can become unpleasant for some to get a phone call from their boss to perform a task when they should be free. The definition of free time becomes vaguer with such schedules.

Disadvantages for the employer

Such schedules are tougher in jobs which need a lot of teamwork. Employees can’t really cooperate if they are not together, and they would often have to get together and establish some strategies. This can be difficult for employers to manage everything and get things done.

People in an office with big windows and good lighting system

Also, flexible working hours might be misinterpreted by some employees. They might take advantage of them to the point that they are actually doing nothing when they should be working. This calls for clear ways to check on the employees and make sure they do their job.

Summing up

A flexible work schedule has both pros and cons, can be great for some and horrible for others. Overall, the advantages seem to be bigger for both employees and employers. However, there is one big drawback. Not all types of jobs are compatible with such schedules, so employers need to ponder all factors before allowing their employees to adopt flexible working hours.

Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

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