what is flex time

What Is Flex Time & How Can You Manage It Effectively?

When people realize that starting/ending the workday at the same time doesn’t equal high productivity and morale, flexible work options such as flex time are getting popular.

But what is flex time? Why is it so attractive? Are there any challenges that come with it? And most importantly, how can you apply it to your business?

What is flex time?

Flex time is a work schedule arrangement in which employees choose when to start and end their workday, as long as they complete the agreed total work hours.

This type of schedule gives employees more freedom in using their time and managing their personal schedules. They can choose to work when they’re most productive or when it’s convenient for them.

Examples of flex time

  • An employee arrives at work at 8 and leaves at 4 today, then arrives at 10 and leaves at 6 the next day.
  • A remote worker checks in with the team from 1 pm to 4 pm. Outside that time frame, they work whenever they want as long as they complete their hours or workload.

How does flex time work?

Employees working flex time can start and end their workday whenever they want, but they need to complete their total hours. The employer and employees will discuss and agree on the number of total work hours at the beginning of employment.

In some workplaces, all employees must be present at work during core hours to attend meetings, collaborate, or have conversations.

If you don’t offer flex time to all employees, those who want flex time can request a flexible work arrangement by submitting a proposal. You can decide whether to grant flex time to the employees or not.

Before granting flex time to employees, you need to consider several factors: workspace, safety, staff well-being, staffing strategies, operational strategies, etc.

If you agree to grant flex time to employees, they must fill out a flexible work schedule form. Discuss and revise the form together. Agree on the number of total work hours employees need to complete. Document the dates of review, modification, or renewal; and make copies for both you and your employees.

Types of flex time options

Flex time comes in many variations, each of which requires different planning and management strategies.

Flexible schedule

Employees can go to work and leave work earlier or later than the standard time.

For example, employees can work from 10 am to 6 pm or 11 am to 7 pm instead of 9 am to 5 pm.

Flexible workweek

Employees choose their working days within a week as long as they can maintain the monthly or weekly total work hours.

For example, employees can work a 4/10 schedule in which they work four 10-hour days and have 3 days off every week. Or they alternate between a 5-day week and a 4-day week.

Job sharing

2 part-time employees can share work to complete the amount of work of a full-time employee.

For example, a customer service agent works from 9 am to 1 pm, and another works from 1 pm to 5 pm.

The difficulty of this flex time option is to define roles, responsibilities, and tasks reasonably, as well as keep the communication process clear and effective.

Comp time

Comp time means employees don’t get overtime if they work extra hours, but they can leave early on some days or take a day off on another day to balance their hours out. It’s common in companies with peak periods.

Remote work

Employees can work from anywhere they want, in the comfort of their own homes or a coffee shop of their own choice. And because they don’t have to be at the workplace, they can start and end their workday anytime they want.

Benefits of flex time

Improves work-life balance

A flexible schedule allows employees to balance between personal life and professional work. They can have more time in the morning to drop off kids at school, enjoy their breakfast a little more slowly, or work on their personal projects when they feel like it.

Increase employee satisfaction

People working flex hours face less stress and fatigue associated with going to work on time and at the same time every day. They can avoid commuting to work during rush hours. They can schedule time for personal tasks. These benefits contribute to employee satisfaction with the workplace.

Reduce absences and attendance issues

With flexibility in work hours, employees don’t have to request the whole morning off for a 1-hour personal task. They can plan ahead and adjust their schedule more flexibly, so they’re less likely to be tardy or absent.

Improves productivity

Research and surveys have proven the link between flex time and productivity. 43% of respondents said work hours flexibility was the main reason for increased productivity, according to Gartner 2021 Digital Worker Experience Survey.

Flex time also brings higher morale and satisfaction, so employees are more likely to go to work feeling motivated and thus more productive.

Helps with retention and hiring

Job seekers and employees are now attracted by workplaces that prioritize results rather than keeping tabs on when employees show up at work.

By offering a flexible schedule with many benefits, you can retain current employees and stand out in the eyes of talented candidates.

Helps optimize costs

If employees work from home, the employer can spend less on rent, energy consumption, and workplace supplies. Flexible time also helps reduce turnover, so you spend less money on hiring, onboarding, and training new people.

Challenges of flex time

Hinders communication

Meetings, discussions, and collaborations can be difficult if people go to work at different times of the day. To make time for these communication sessions, you can schedule core hours or core workdays when everyone must be present at work.

Blurs the lines between work and home

It’s hard to differentiate between work and life if people work from the same space they sleep and relax. Not everyone has the privilege of having separate spaces for paid work and personal life.

Hinders career progression

Working alone and not having enough time to meet coworkers directly can hinder career progression. It’s harder to ask questions, communicate, collaborate, and learn new things.

Not for everyone

Since everyone has different preferences regarding how they work, employees who enjoy disciplined hours and the atmosphere of a workplace might not be happy.

Flex time also doesn’t work with all industries. It’s more suitable for individual work and asynchronous work.

Difficult to manage

Employees may clock in and out at different times, so it can be challenging to manage their hours and progress. You also need careful planning and clear communication to ensure the workflow is not disrupted.

How to implement flex time in your business

Managing flex time takes some planning and adjustments at the beginning. Once you’ve developed a solid plan and policy for it, you’re well-prepared for implementing it in your business.

Make a plan

Flexible work can be messy if you don’t have a specific plan for how you integrate the new schedule into the current operations, how employees communicate with each other and with management, and how you track the work progress.

Your plan should include:

1. Goals: What you expect to achieve by implementing flex time.
2. Types of flex time you offer: Remote work, core hours, flexible workweeks? Research the options and choose the one(s) that suits your business operations and employee needs.
3. Details of work: Scope of work, how you divide tasks, timeline, deadlines.
4. Roles and responsibilities: Who does what, who to report to, who approves what.
5. Communication procedures: The frequency, tools, and processes to keep people on the same page.
6. Hour requirements/core hours: When all employees must be present at work and for how long.

Develop a flex time policy

If you’ve had a solid plan at the beginning, you can use it to develop an official flex time policy for your business. It should outline the rules and guidelines for employees so they can refer to when needed.

Communicate with your workforce

Talking to your workers about flex time shouldn’t happen once.

You may need to discuss the possibility of a flexible schedule with your employees before applying it in your business, if applicable. If your workforce is up for it, the implementation will be much easier.

After making a plan and developing a flex time policy, communicate it to your workforce. Let them know your expectations and give them guidelines for what they have to do.

Try it out

Try implementing flex time in your business for a while. If it’s actually suitable for your operations and employee capacity, you can make it official.

Monitor progress and revise the plan

Implementing flexible hours needs lots of adjustments, so the plan for it shouldn’t be set in stone. Monitor how this new schedule type works in your business and how your employees adapt to it. Then, revise your plan periodically.

FAQs about flex time

What are core working hours in a flexible work schedule?

Core working hours are the number of hours in a workday or a workweek that all employees need to be present at work. Some businesses set these hours so everyone can be under the same roof for meetings, discussions, or decision making.

For example, you can set core hours from 1 pm to 3 pm and staff members must be at work at that time.

Can employees work overtime in a flex time schedule?

Most flex time schedules have a total number of work hours that employees need to meet however they arrange their schedule. If employees work more than that number, they must be compensated for overtime.

How to maintain work-life balance while working flex time?

The ability to choose working hours that suit each individual best makes flex time so attractive. But not everyone can manage their time well. Listen to your natural rhythm. Set boundaries and limits so the line between work and life doesn’t blur. Make time for important things in your life and do one thing at a time.

Keep track of flex time with Camelo

While a flex time schedule brings many advantages to both employers and employees, not every workplace knows how to make use of it.

If you plan to use flex time in your business, have a thorough plan, communicate closely with your workforce, and use tools that keep the workflow well-organized.

Camelo is a scheduling software that can help you manage a flex time schedule more easily. There are various tools for you to do so:

Time tracking made simple

Camelo auto-records work time for employees when they clock in and out on the app. You can track employee attendance and hours in real time.

Workforce management tools in your pocket

The mobile app allows you to track who works where and when. Employees can check how long they’ve been working each week. Anytime and from anywhere.

Availability and leaves in one place

You can view the available time and leaves of your staff via the mobile app. There’s no tedious filling out forms and handling paperwork anymore.

Schedule updates notified instantly

With instant notifications and reminders on Camelo, you can notify your team of schedule updates immediately and keep everyone on the same page.

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