The popularity of flexible work arrangements is growing significantly in businesses nowadays as many of us are aware of the benefits. Many companies around the world have adopted quickly to bring more ‘flexibility’ into their workplaces.
Making workplaces more flexible is a crucial way of driving employee engagement and productivity as well as boosting employee's work-life balance. Read on to learn more about the different types of flexible work arrangements and their pros and cons.
Flexible working is a working arrangement where employees have the options in terms of working time, work location, and the patterns of working. However, it is hard to define flexible working in one sentence since it can take many forms in its types.
The most common types of flexible work arrangements are as below :
Telecommuting can be defined as a working arrangement where employees can work all or part of their working week away from the office. Employees are allowed to work from home or wherever else they choose to work.
Often it is hard to find a clear distinction between telecommuting and remote work. But, telecommuting can differ from remote work in terms of whether physical attendance is ever required and whether alternate worksites are available. In many cases, employees are required to attend in-person meetings on occasions and work on the worksites including the office, satellite offices, and anywhere else(even from home, too). For this reason, employees need to be around the workplace at some point and not allowed to be off site forever.
Remote work is a type of working arrangement where all work can be done remotely. Remote working does not require employees to be in a physical office. They can work from home, a cafe, and basically anywhere they want, even from abroad. This type of work arrangement includes the concept of ‘work from home’ because employees can work their office hours being physically out of the office.
For this reason, telecommuting and remote work are often used interchangeably. But while telecommuting requires employees to be around the workplace, remote workers are able to work from anywhere they want and thus can be staffed in different countries. Since remote work does not require employees to attend meetings in person, they can participate in meetings through video conferencing like Zoom, Google meet, Skype, etc.
The concept of hybrid work is a mixture of remote and office work. It is a flexible form of working arrangement that allows employees to split their time between working in the office and working remotely, from anywhere out of the office. So employees can freely choose to work on-site few days a week while working off-site for the rest of the working days.
For more detailed information on the concept of hybrid work, read Future of Work, Hybrid Model.
Flextime is a type of working arrangement where employees can choose, within certain limits, when to begin and end their work. Employees are required to work during the core hours and must work an agreed number of hours during the set period of time.
For example, employees can choose to work from 7 a.m to 3 p.m rather than working in conventional 9 to 5 work schedule. Therefore in some arrangements, employees may also extend their working hours on one day to reduce their hours on another, as long as their weekly or monthly contracted hours are met.
This type of working arrangement was regarded as rare in the past but is now commonly practiced in a wide range of industries. Flextime can be beneficial in a way that employees can manage their time to avoid rush hour traffic, thus saving much more time on commuting.
Condensed Workweeks can be practiced by working weekly(or monthly) contracted hours in a shorter period of time. Hence, employees can work their usual hours in fewer days.
Under this arrangement, the standard work week is compressed into fewer than five days. That is why this type of work arrangement is also known as a 4/10 work schedule, which is four 10-hour days a week, thus having more days off on the weekends.
Nevertheless, employees on a condensed workweek schedule should still receive the same pay as if they were working on a traditional work schedule, because they're still working the same contracted hours.
For many companies around the world, flexible working is now becoming the new norm.
Then, what are the pros and cons of flexible work schedules?
- Attract and retain talented employees
- Improve employees' job performances, thus boosting productivity in the workplace
- Reduce costs on fixed and operational expenditure (e.g. less space for the office)
- Drives employee engagement and productivity
- Provides better work-life balance with lower levels of stress
- Help employees to be more adaptive to different working environments
- Issues regarding trust and supervision
- More difficulties in managing employees
- Needs for investments in technology and other tools to make flexible working effective
- No clear distinction between home and work
- Communication breakdowns due to a lack of contact with colleagues
Even with a few drawbacks of flexible working, many employees now regard work-life balance is almost as important as a good salary. According to a recent survey, 80% of job candidates answered that they would turn down a job if the company didn't offer a flexible work schedule.
It's never late to adopt a flexible work arrangement that will make your workplace more productive.