Flextime, AKA Flexi-Time, is the New Word of the Week

by Danielle Foster

As the COVID-19 pandemic keeps gathering steam, more and more people are working from home. And at home, not only are they trying to work, many of them are also caring for children whose schools have closed. The sight of a three-year-old crashing a Zoom meeting will soon be commonplace.

Once the crisis has eased, not only will many employees be interested in continuing to work remotely, if only for several days a week, many will also wish to work on a flexible schedule — flextime, which Merriam-Webster defines as a system that allows employees to choose their own times for starting and finishing work within a broad range of available hours.

While the coronavirus has made flexible work the new “Word of the Week,” it is no secret that flextime and remote work have been gaining popularity over the last decade. According to a new article in the Harvard Business Review,part-time, contingent, contract, temporary, freelance, independent contractor, on-demand, online and platform working are on the rise, and 81% of some 14,000 people in all age groups who were queried in an international survey across all industry sectors said they prefer to work this way.

With the pandemic at the forefront of everyone’s mind and the idea of working remotely and flexibly already on the rise, this is a great opportunity to explore the idea of offering a flexible workplace after the pandemic abates. To get you started we have defined three tips to implement a flexible work schedule:

  1. Get employee buy-in early

Although the goal of offering flexible schedules is to make your workplace more appealing, implementation will require extra work up front, especially for the HR and IT teams. Talking to these key departments early on and getting their buy-in will help them see the big picture and get them on board. Pay close attention to their concerns and clearly communicate the goals of the new policy.

  1. Not everyone will be a good flexible worker

Flexible work and telecommuting require specific skills, and not everyone has these skills. But don’t throw the idea out just because some people are not cut out for it. Instead, make flexible work and telecommuting optional so as to allow those who prefer their normal work schedule to stick with it. Also, consider offering other perks to these traditional workers. Finally, consider offering remote work training.

  1. Do a trial run

If you are a large business with many employees or are simply nervous about starting a new flex work program, a trial run may be a great way to stick your toe in the water. Consider rolling out the program with one department and use what you learn to gather data and work out any kinks.

The coronavirus will almost certainly prove to be a transformative event in our nation’s history. Let’s do our best to prepare for a tomorrow that will look somewhat different from yesterday.