In a business environment in which many employees routinely bring along work on vacations and make themselves accessible during weekends and other off-hours, the line between work and home becomes blurred. By incorporating flexible work schedules and telecommuting, an employer might find that employees are more productive and satisfied and experience less conflict between work time and personal obligations. To successfully implement and manage a flexible work schedule and/or a telecommuting policy in the workplace, it is imperative that managers weigh the benefits against any disadvantages of such programs.
Some roles are equally successful and practicable whether an individual is based in the office location or from a remote one. Other positions, especially those that are reliant upon face-to-face meetings with clients or colleagues, might best remain as office-based jobs. A position that is typically telephone- or computer-based can be housed in any location. Thanks to email and instant messaging, employers typically will not be disadvantaged by allowing individuals to work remotely.
The key with this arrangement is to clearly define expectations of the work schedule, outline number of work hours per week and emphasize accountability. Telecommuting employees should use their electronic communications as a means of regular accessibility during their work hours. It is also suggested that managers reach out to remotely located employees on a routine basis to ensure the employees are engaged in their work duties and that the manager is accessible for support when needed.
A flexible work schedule refers to allowing employees to work shifts other than the standard 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday time period. Employees who work a flexible schedule might bring to an organization a variety of benefits, including:
- Decreased absenteeism and tardiness
- Greater accessibility to customers
- Improved morale
- Increased productivity
When implementing a flexible work schedule, it is important that the employer clearly expresses expectations regarding the number of hours the employee is to work. Establishing the hours per business day is another suggestion, as this clarifies the workplace rules and benefits employees by informing them of co-workers’ availability.
Benefits for both employer and employee
Other benefits of telecommuting and flexible schedules are cost related; flexible schedules and telecommuting should not pose a financial liability to an organization. In fact, the opposite may ring true. Employers who permit flexible work schedules and/or telecommuting often see a decrease in employee turnover. Some of the most common factors affecting employee resignations involve work/life balance. Employers who are able to successfully implement creative work schedules without compromising the operations of their business establish themselves as an employer of choice for individuals who value flexibility and telecommuting when searching for an ideal new job. In establishing a telecommuting and/or flexible work schedule policy, it is imperative that the policy and the expectations are clearly communicated and that the policy is consistently applied to all employees eligible to participate. It is also important to take into consideration any factors that would negate the program, whether for the employer as a whole or for an individual employee.
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