Avoid the Disadvantages of Flexible Work Schedules

November 11, 2020 | 487 views

Avoid the Disadvantages of Flexible Work Schedules
Avoid the Disadvantages of Flexible Work Schedules

Flexible work schedules became popular long before the coronavirus—most everyone who could negotiate flexibility in working from home sought this desirable benefit. The current pandemic has now made flexible schedules the norm for many businesses large and small.

We have previously addressed some of the advantages of, and methods to streamline scheduling when flexibility is key. Today, we will look at some of the disadvantages and how to avoid them. Since the traditional 8 to 5 job may be a memory for some, the shift to flexible working hours will come with some bumps in the road, and we want to fix problems before they arise.

Depending on your small business or organization, flexible hours can pose a few challenges. One position may have more flexibility and create resentment between colleagues based on roles. Meetings can be difficult to schedule, and impromptu communication deteriorates when co-workers are not available or are difficult to contact. Office and computer security issues may arise with employees on home networks or working alone in the office at odd hours. And hourly employees could inflate overtime if not carefully managed.

You may decide that the advantages of flextime do not outweigh the problems. For some businesses, that makes sense, especially if your business has retail hours that demand customer-facing employees. For others, the advantages are worth the stress of change to become more agile organizations. There are various ways to help mitigate the challenges caused by allowing employees to determine their hours and availability:

  1. Remember that business success is the primary goal. Employees can understand this, and you must coach them about how best to use flexible scheduling. Employees will need to be consistent, meet specific goals, and commit to working at times that support the business needs that you outline. Clarify and enforce the need for a schedule that benefits the business. Flexibility is helpful for all only when the business can still thrive.
  2. Hold individuals accountable by creating teams to focus on scheduling. Establish a group of employees from all levels to occasionally meet to review problems, research options, and make suggestions. With multiple types of employees included in formulating the best flexible working plan, issues can transcend the typical organizational hierarchy. Include employee input to accommodate the business and the benefits of flexibility.
  3. Establish clear policies for flexible schedules. Based on the group’s suggestions and your business needs, develop standards for productivity and behavior within a flexible scheduling system. Weekly updates on a project may be required, for example. Likewise, the impact of something like abuse of overtime must be addressed strongly and swiftly.
  4. Use technology to improve communication. From scheduling software to a good VPN, provide the necessary tools for coworkers to communicate effectively. Have availability and hours transparent to everyone. Make project progress readily visible. Hold consistent meetings to keep everyone informed.

If flexible work schedules suit your small business, you will find both advantages and disadvantages. With some preplanning and collaborative scheduling, the benefits should outweigh the problems that more flexibility might cause.

Author Profile Jon Forknell is the Vice President and General Manager of Atlas Business Solutions, Inc., a software marketing company specializing in employee scheduling software, including ScheduleBase employee scheduling software, and other business software solutions. In the past, Jon has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as a SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year. For many years, Atlas Business Solutions has been named one of Software Magazine’s Top 500 Software Companies.

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