What Is Flextime? And How to Do It the Right Way

Flextime gives employees the opportunity to set their own schedules. To make the most of this working arrangement, organizations need a clear plan to keep workers on track while still granting them flexibility.

Remote work is adjacent to flexible hours—if you’re working from home, it’s easier to dash out for 20 minutes to pick up the kids—but it’s not the same thing as an actual flextime arrangement. As associations work to incorporate more flexible working practices, they may need to develop a more formal flextime arrangement with policies that meet their employees’ needs.

As with remote work, leaders will need to be clear with employees about what those policies are and communicate frequently.

“With flextime, you probably aren’t able to manage people as closely because workers are coming and going. It’s a similar situation to remote work,” says Jon Osborne, vice president of strategic research at Staffing Industry Analysts. “Workers should understand the big picture of what they’re expected to do, and they should know what success looks like.”

Consider these tips to help you create a system for flexible working hours.

What Is Flextime?

Flextime refers to a working schedule with adjustable starting and ending hours. Where a traditional schedule is usually from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday, a flextime schedule allows employees to work, for example, a flextime schedule allows employees to break from that structure. For example, someone might work from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., or in blocks of time throughout the day—say, from 7 a.m. to noon, then from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

As employees seek a better work-life balance, flextime offers an opportunity to better manage their time. However, flextime may mandate that employees be in the office during certain hours to accommodate customers, team meetings, and other necessary collaborations. More employers are interested in providing this option as long as the work gets done and in a timely manner.

Consider these tips to help you create a system for flexible working hours.

Establish Clear Guidelines

Regardless of how you structure your flextime policies, there should indeed be a structure. Set parameters such as:

  • Acceptable working hours—A range of time in which employees can work (e.g., 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.).
  • Core hours—A chunk of the day in which all employees are required to work, which helps teams touch base. For example, you could set core hours to be from noon to 3 p.m., and schedule team meetings in that window.
  • Hour requirements—The number hours employees need to fill on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Do employees need to work eight hours a day, or can they opt for condensed workweeks where they cover 40 hours in fewer than five days?

Providing these guidelines will help employees stay connected and keep teams on the same page while still offering workers the freedom to choose their hours. Osborne says that having these parameters will also help build a sense of community among flex workers and ward off feelings of loneliness or isolation.

“You might say, ‘OK, we have flextime,’ and then you never see some employees again, because they’re working at home or working in the evenings,” he says. “And they can lose a connection with the company and with other staff.”

Measure Performance

As with remote work, flextime gives managers less direct oversight of their workers, as they won’t always be working the same hours. As a result, leaders should measure employees on their performance and output, not on process or hours worked.

“Because then, who cares when employees are coming and going. If you’re paying them according to how productive they are, then you’re somewhat liberated from having to manage them too closely, because they’ll manage themselves,” Osborne says.

To do this, leaders need to set clear metrics for success for each employee on their team. Project management software can help with this, as you can track a project’s progress, set clear deadlines, assign specific tasks to specific people, and help employees stay connected with asynchronous communication.

Reward Experience and Good Work

Consider a flextime policy that gives employees more freedom as they continue to perform well and meet deadlines. For new hires who need to acclimate to the job, you may want to require that they work certain hours of the day or be available all five days of the workweek. But for a seasoned employee with years of experience at your organization, you might lift certain restrictions, such as daily hour requirements, and let them operate with condensed workweeks.

“A senior person who you trust and always delivers on time, you can probably give a certain amount of latitude to that person because they’re going to deliver,” Osborne says. “Other people, especially new people who aren’t well connected with the company and other employees, might get less flextime until they get settled and know for sure what they’re doing.”

This is the final article in our three-part series about the flexible workplace. Read the first installment, an article about flexible management, as well as part 2, about assessing staff needs regarding flexibility.

(Nuthawut Somsuk/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Michael Hickey

By Michael Hickey

Michael Hickey is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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