How Flexible Work Schedules Benefit Companies and Employees
While much was written on flexible work schedules before the COVID-19 pandemic, even more has been written on the topic over the past 18 months. Faced with work-from-home arrangements and the demands of spouses, kids, housemates, and others, solopreneurs, small business owners, and professional workers embraced flexible work schedules out of necessity.
Flexible Work Schedules Post-Pandemic
But as the U.S. economy emerged from lockdowns earlier this summer, businesses and employees found themselves navigating unchartered waters. Many workers thrived in the new flexible work schedule environment, and they want to see it continue. However, in some cases, businesses are demanding a return to pre-pandemic work schedules.
Many workers are resisting these attempts by employers to force them back into the office, and public conflicts have broken out between some businesses their workers. Some relocated to other cities or states and relocating back to areas where they cannot afford housing and must sit in traffic for hours each day commuting to and from a fixed office location. Others achieved enhanced work-life balance and are simply unwilling to compromise. These workers are serious about their convictions, with growing numbers either publicly protesting moves by their employers to enforce the mandates or simply quitting their jobs. One poll pegged the number of workers willing to jettison their ties with their employers at almost 50%.
Different Forms of Flexible Work Schedules
Flexible work schedules mean different things for different organizations and professionals. Flexible work schedules typically involve one or more of the following:
• Location from which work is done
• Work schedules that align with personal work-life balance
• Scheduling each workday around business and life activities
While these are the predominant ways in which businesses and workers address flexible work schedules, there are also other elements:
• Part time versus full time
• Fully remote work
• Work-from-anywhere arrangements
• Compressed work weeks (e.g., 40 hours over four days instead of five days)
• Alternative schedule jobs
• Seasonal jobs
• Temporary work
• Gig/contract/freelance projects
Benefits of Flexible Work Schedules for Workers
One outtake of the COVID-19 pandemic work world is that workers liked flexible work schedules. Remote work is important for workers: 48% in a recent survey by FlexJobs said they would “absolutely” look for a new job if they could not continue to work remote, with only 11% indicating that working remotely isn’t a big deal. Almost two-thirds (65%) said they want to remain full-time remote workers, with another one-third (33%) indicating they prefer a hybrid work arrangement. Only 2% said they want to return to the office full time!
Workers cite a number of reasons why they prefer remote work. The same survey by FlexJobs found that the opportunity to reduce—or eliminate—time spent commuting was at the very top of the list (84%), followed by cost savings (75%), avoidance of COVID-19 exposure (32%), and more time with family and pets (26%).
As noted above, flexible work schedules are more than remote work arrangements. For some workers, they prefer the ability to mix work-life activities together throughout the day. For example, business professionals might work several hours in the morning but then take off a couple hours in the middle of the day to run errands, get young children from school, or care for elderly parents. Other workers may prefer to work afternoons and evenings and leave the mornings open for family obligations and personal activities.
One trend growing in popularity is the idea of the compressed work week. Rather than working five days a week and eight hours each day, businesses are electing to move to a four-day work week where workers log 10 hours each day. Another example involves employees working nine hours per day and taking a full day off every two weeks. These are gaining favor overseas and some U.S. companies are giving the compressed work week approach a go.
Benefits of Flexible Work Schedules for Businesses
Advancements in technology make flexible work schedules much easier than just a few years ago. In particular, digital transformation accelerated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and technologies leapfrogged multiple years ahead in their capabilities. Thus, what might have been difficult for some businesses, no longer is an issue.
The benefits of flexible work schedules for businesses are significant. Loyalty, which should not be underestimated in its value, is one of the positives. A recent survey revealed that 83% of workers said they will be more loyal to their employers if offered flexible work options. Employee turnover is expensive and detrimental to the business—impacting productivity and even revenue. But this is just one example of the benefits of flexible work schedules for employers. The following are a few of the most notable outcomes:
• Lower payroll and worker cost. One-fifth of employees indicate they would take a pay cut in exchange for flexible work schedule arrangements. Notable percentages of workers indicate they would give up vacation time and even other forms of employer compensation.
• Reduced real-estate footprint. Fixed, long-term office space is expensive—inordinately so in some locations. By offering flexible work schedules to employees, businesses are able to reduce their real-estate footprint and cost. This is even true in situations where businesses have elected to embrace hybrid work arrangements.
• Improved productivity. Offices are places for meetings and social interactions. Most employees (19%) indicate they go to the office when they really need to get something done; 52% actually say they return to their home office to finish it.
Flexible Work Schedules Facilitated by Virtual Workspace and Meeting Rooms
Just as COVID-19 created many challenges, it also opened up new opportunities. The embrace of flexible work schedules by many businesses and workers is having a dramatic impact—socially and economically. Use of on-demand coworking spaces, day offices, and meeting rooms, such as those offered by Davinci Meeting Rooms, will play a critical role in making flexible work schedules a reality and success.
As a consequence, businesses can give up permanent office space knowing that highly professional workspaces and meeting rooms exist—often in closer proximity to their workers. Workers can tap these on-demand workspace resources with the confidence that the workspaces will be regularly sanitized by professional janitorial cleaning crews and come with the latest and most advanced technologies needed to facilitate collaboration and presentations.