What’s it: Flexible working is the practice of giving employees more opportunities and freedom to complete their tasks. It can involve flexibility in time, location, or how to do a task. For example, employees can work from home or anywhere as long as their work is done. They don’t have to go and do it in the office.
This work practice is becoming more and more common nowadays, along with advances in information technology. The gig economy is growing, and many companies hire independent workers for short-term commitments.
And, work flexibility is fun for some people. They can balance their work-life better. They can schedule and prioritize office work and fulfill personal needs.
Why is flexible working important?
Several reasons explain why flexible working is important. Let’s discuss three of them. First, companies can save money. They can recruit and add employees without needing larger office space. In addition, they can save on costs such as utilities which increase when they have more employees.
Second, employees are more productive. They tend to be excited because they can do the work in the place they like best. In addition, they can also choose the time when they are most productive.
On the other hand, working in an office may not make employees productive. For example, some people may be tired because they are stuck in traffic in the morning when they work.
And, upon arrival at the office, their emotions do not support them to work productively. They need some time to calm their mind before they really work effectively. Such problems may not occur when they work from home or their favorite place.
Third, employees are more able to balance work life and personal life. Often, personal needs interfere when they are in the office. For example, they may need permission for personal use. Or, they handle it from the office, though often not completely done.
In contrast, flexible working allows employees to better organize and manage their personal and office lives. They can give priority to these two needs. So, personal problems and office work can be handled properly.
What are the types of flexible working?
Flexible working can take several ways. It may be flexibility in working hours, work location, or work patterns. And, not all businesses are suited to that flexibility. So, it may be available in some companies but not in others.
Among the common flexible working are:
Part-time. Employees work less than normal working hours. So, cumulatively, they work fewer hours per week than full-time jobs.
Working from home. Employees perform tasks and jobs from home or other places but not in the office or normal workplace.
Flexible time or flexitime. Employees can choose a start and end time for their workday. For example, the normal working time is 8am – 5pm. However, they may choose 7am-4pm.
Job sharing. Two people share work for one full-time position. Both do one job and divide work time between them. For example, jobs can be organized and divided into 50/50 or others.
Annualized hours. Employees must meet the total annual hours worked as required by the employer. However, they are flexible about when they have to work.
Mobile work. Employees can work anywhere without being tied to a physical location, like working from home.
Shift work. This practice divides a day into several shifts. And the working hours in each shift are determined by the company. For example, it might include night, evening, and morning shifts, where employees work alternately.
Compressed hours. Employees work fewer days, but full time each time they come to work. For example, they work Monday to Thursday with normal working hours (8am-5pm).
What are the advantages of flexible working?
Save cost. Companies can save more money by minimizing overhead costs. For example, they do not have to provide accommodations. Likewise, they don’t have to rent additional office space anymore when recruiting more employees.
Increase productivity. Companies can achieve higher productivity by giving employees flexibility about when and where they work on tasks. Take, for example working from home. Employees can choose the time and location suitable for working under the best conditions. So, they can be more productive.
Increase morale and retention. Flexible working allows for better job satisfaction, reduces stress, and ultimately strengthens loyalty to the company. Thus, it leads to low employee turnover.
Attract talent. Offering flexible work can be a way to attract the best talent out there. For example, offering mobile work can attract those who don’t like working full-time in an office.
Improve customer service. Companies can have more time to provide services to customers, for example, by offering extended opening hours. Or, it’s through shift work.
A more balanced work-life. Employees can prioritize and manage their personal lives better. So, they can do office tasks without being interrupted by personal needs. And on the other hand, personal needs are not interrupted by office work.
What are the disadvantages of flexible working?
Complexity in managing the organization. Managers find it difficult to manage their people. For example, companies practice working from home. Their subordinates may be unavailable when needed urgently due to taking care of the family. It shouldn’t have happened when they were in the office.
Additional administrative work. Companies may need additional administrative work to set up and manage flexible work.
Interrupted while working. When working from home, employees may find it difficult to focus. In addition, they may be distracted by the routine at home. For example, their children may invite them to play while doing office work.
Delayed work. Working from home requires employees to set work-life priorities and the discipline to live up to those priorities. However, it is often difficult. As a result, they may procrastinate and avoid work, especially when their family needs it.
Communication problems. Technology has indeed facilitated better communication today. But, it’s not without problems. Technical problems such as a damaged or overcrowded network can cause communication to be lost. Such problems are minimal when employees can communicate face-to-face in the office.
Reduced benefits. Flexible working may not reduce pay. But, often, companies will adjust the benefits provided to employees. For example, they do not get a meal or transportation allowance.
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