The U.S. Department of Labor recognizes flexible work schedules as "an alternative to the traditional, 9-5, 40 hour work week." The DOL continues to note that some company policies may require employees to be present during "core hours" with the rest of their schedule up to them. Flexible jobs and work schedules are becoming more and more prevalent, with 67% of small businesses offering flexible work arrangements. Additionally, Deloitte found that lack of flexible schedules was the number one reason millennials left jobs in 2018.
Flexible work schedules can help to decrease stress, ease the burdens of the expense of childcare, and help employees avoid lengthy commutes. With modern technology and employees working from home more than ever, remote work and flexible jobs are predicted to be the future, allowing people to work when, where, and how they are the most productive. Flexible work arrangements also save employers money and improve employee happiness and job satisfaction.
A flexible schedule is anything outside the realms of a standard 40 hour, nine to five work week, tailored to meet an individual employee's needs. Flexible schedules are often linked with telecommuters or flexible jobs, where employees are not required to be in the office for their entire (or any part of) their work week. Flexible schedules can include a compressed work week, where employees will fit 40 hours into three or four days, to give themselves more time off, or daily flexible schedules, where their hours vary day by day.
Flexible schedules are extremely beneficial to people with otherwise difficult work-life balance, those with children, pets, or elderly parents they care for, and more. Zenefits found that 78% of employees report that having a flexible schedule made them more productive, and 73% feel that flexible work improved job satisfaction.
People choose to have flexible schedules for these reasons (& more.)
If you work on a team or for a company, you'll need a way to let your coworkers know where and when you'll be available. If you freelance or have your own business, skip ahead to the section on staying motivated when you have a flexible schedule.
Here are some tools we recommend for those with a flexible schedule.
When you have a flexible schedule, you or your coworkers may need to communicate during off-hours. Maybe your family is asleep, you're on-the-go while your coworker is in the office, or you're working from an airport. Instant messaging apps like Slack, Skype for Business, and Google Hangouts are a great way to quickly give and receive info without having to send an email or make a phone or video call.
Having a smartphone with your messaging apps, email, reporting, and the ability to take video and phone calls on the move is a good failsafe if you are ever traveling or unexpectedly away from your computer. Most software platforms on desktop now offer mobile apps so you aren't limited by leaving the house.
Consider setting up Eero beacons in your home if your WiFi doesn't stretch well to all areas. That way, if you are working on your yard, in the basement, or somewhere that didn't previously have great signal, you won't be limited by where you can work.
Having a laptop, tablet, and portable work setup will allow you to work from anywhere both in and out of your home. If you have a flexible schedule, you may not have a permanent desk at work, so it's helpful to have everything you need be portable, small, and travel easily.
Use Google Calendar or another calendar app to keep a public, updated calendar marking your working hours, days/times you aren't available, holidays, and meetings.
Have a candid conversation with your boss if you would like to begin working flexible hours. Schedule regular check-ins and progress meetings, and create a weekly or daily standup style meeting to ensure that both of you feel comfortable and there is full transparency on when you'll be working.
Hybrid teams have both in-office and remote employees and often include many people who have flexible schedules and will be tuning in to meetings from home, on the go, or in the office. If you have a flexible schedule, make sure your team knows where you'll be, when you're working, and how they can find out. This helps your team to know when they can contact you for projects, questions, or issues, and helps you achieve better work-life balance by not having coworkers bothering you during your offline, personal time. Make sure to keep your calendar up-to-date, your instant messaging app updated with relevant away messages and statuses, and be on time for all meetings so that your coworkers show you the same respect in your busy lifestyle.
Some people are better than others at staying motivated and keeping a tight schedule when working from home. For many people, it's helpful to have a structured day in order to stay focused during work times.
Try these methods to help stay on track with an alternative work schedule.
2. Incorporating exercise, yoga, gardening, painting, or other hobbies
3. Walk your pet
5. Use to-do list tools
Having a flexible work schedule can decrease stress, increase productivity, and help to ease the burden of childcare or pet care for many people. If your company doesn't currently offer remote work or flexible schedules, check out these companies offering flexible roles. Considering working from home today? This flowsheet will help you decide if you should work remotely or not.