This is a guest post by Tom Wishart, a Glasgow-based freelance writer. Well-versed in all areas of digital marketing – particularly social media marketing – he has consulted for many businesses within the UK.
Life management can be difficult. The bank, the mechanics, the doctors – all places that have fairly standard opening hours, 9 to 5 (maybe 6 if you’re lucky), Monday to Friday.
This is all well and good, but when you also work 9 to 5, Monday to Friday, fitting in the necessary activities in life can be a challenge.
For those that this affects, you’re in luck. Since the turn of the millennium, more and more companies have been moving towards flexible working hours.
The style of flexi-time can vary from job to job. Some allow you to work an extra hour every day and take every second Friday off. For others, it could mean having a working range – think 7am to 9pm – in which employees can work their contracted daily hours.
The Rise of Flexi-time
The reasons behind the shift from standard working hours to flexi-time over the last 15 years are varied, but they all boil down to one simple fact: our world – and as a consequence, our way of life – is changing. Just as the ITIL certification and business training is moving online, so too is the working day changing.
The initial reason behind traditional working hours was a simple one – keep everyone on the same clock, and all business can be planned for and transacted within the same time frame.
With the advent of the internet and online services, the necessity of having available business hours greatly diminished.
E-commerce sites mean that shopping can be done round the clock, and from the comfort of one’s own home.
Globalisation has meant that businesses – and the employees within them – are working across several different time zones, further reducing the practicality of having a 9 to 5 routine set in one particular zone.
Freelancers and the “gig” industry also have a role in the changing landscape of working hours.
While some could argue that freelancers have been around for years in the form of contractors, the modern freelancer is its own unique beast.
Contractors tend to work on long term projects and contracts; some contractors have been working for the same company for far longer than many of their employees. Their contracts are more fluid and organic; they can change freely along the course of the project, and this is understood at the outset.
Freelancers work leans more towards the short-term – the “gig” industry – with a view to fully-encapsulated contracts. Any changes will most likely incur further costs, and need to be discussed before given approval.
As standard, freelancers have deadlines, not working hours. The method of billing can vary – some contracts may have a total cost, some many require hourly billing rates – but the working methods do not.
As the amount of freelancers within industries grows, the number of employees tied to traditional working hours diminishes. This puts pressure on companies to allow their in-house employees to adopt flexible working hours as they become the industry norm; it also allows employees to work alongside freelancers in an easier fashion.
Advantages to Employees
Flexible work schedules can benefit employees for the following reasons:
- Organizational flexibility, allowing you to manage needs and meet your obligations in life.
As mentioned before, life doesn’t always fall into a neat 9 to 5 routine. Being able to choose their hours or shift the working day as appropriate can allow employees to attend fitness classes, pick up and drop off kids from school, go to their doctor’s appointment, or be available for home calls such as deliveries or home repairs.
- Decreased living costs.
Similar to the above point, allowing employees to choose their own working hours can reduce every day’s costs. Public transport is often more expensive during peak hours, massively increasing the cost of the commute. Starting work earlier may allow parents to pick up their kids straight after school, reducing childcare costs.
- Reduced burnout and increased productivity.
Giving employees the ability to take time off as required without having to have a lay period can give them the chance to recover from sudden events or simply rest when they are feeling overwhelmed.
Everyone also has preferred working hours; there are morning people and night owls and everything in between. By allowing employees to work periods of the day that suit them best.
Advantages to Employers
Flexible working hours also have benefits to employers as well as employees:
- Reduced absenteeism.
When no alternative is available, employees may take sick days to meet their obligations. These are often unplanned and can throw a spanner in the works of project planning and logistics. Flexible working hours removes the need for many cases of absenteeism.
- Attractive working environments.
Companies may notice an increase in the quality of applications they receive for job openings, as flexible working hours are an attractive benefit to any potential employee.
Providing these when your competitors do not will attract the best in the field. This may also reduce staff turnover rates.
- Extended operational hours.
By giving employees the chance to work later if it suits, employers can offer later opening hours in relevant departments – such as customer service – to customers.
- Increased moral and commitment to the business.
By giving employees the ability to take greater control of their life management, companies show that they trust and value their employees. This will be returned by employees in the form of higher moral and better productivity.
What do you think about flexible working hours?