Flexible work arrangements – the pros and cons

Has the era of working five days a week, 9am to 5pm become extinct? Is offering employees more flexible work arrangements becoming the new modern workplace?

It is now easier for businesses to offer flexible work arrangements, thanks mainly to our ability to stay remarkably connected. New factors are also driving employees’ increasing interest in flexible work – more households are dual-earners, travel times have increased in our large cities and stress levels are on the rise.

There are definitely pros and cons to offering workplace flexibility so the answer lies in taking a balanced approach. On the plus side, employers willingness to offer flexible work can drive attraction and retention of talented employees as well as staff engagement. On the down side, managing a workforce that is not at work at the same time can be challenging.

Whether or not today’s businesses recognise it, flexible work is now the number one tool for reducing office and workplace costs and for doing ‘more with less’. Just as technology has become an increasingly important part of the workplace in the past decade, flexible working is quickly becoming the norm in many Australian companies.

But why would an employer consider offering flexitime? If they run a very traditional sort of business or operate out of habit, to see employees in and out of the office during the day can be distressing. It can also be problematic to coordinate people, tasks and productivity when employees aren’t at work at the same time.

So why should employers consider creating flexible schedules?

The main reason is to retain key, dedicated employees whose personal needs conflict with traditional work arrangements. If you can offer flexible working, you’ll gain increased productivity and worker satisfaction, along with decreased absenteeism and turnover – all great money-savers.

Flexible working helps create a happier, more satisfied workforce.  Because employees appreciate that their employers are willing to allow for a work-life balance, they tend to work more productively and have increased engagement. Employees who find this perfect balance are more likely to stay with their existing employer and continue this arrangement.

The pros and cons of flexible work arrangements include:

PROS

  • Ability to attract and retain talented employees who want or need to access flexible work arrangements
  • Greater employee engagement and productivity as flexible workers need to stay focused to complete all their tasks
  • Benefits to the bottom line achieved through less staff turnover and time wasted at work
  • Building a “give-take” company culture that values the different needs of its employees

CONS

  • Arranging meetings with employees working part-time or flexible hours
  • Managing performance fairly across full-time and part-time employees
  • Providing access to development and promotion opportunities to employees working flexibly
  • Building the company’s culture when not all employees work together all the time

The lack of direct supervision and staff maintenance can have its downsides when it comes to flexible working. Some employees can abuse the opportunity and can result in reduced output and other consequences to the business. The other consideration is the increased demands to HR and IT, but overall, flexible working is here to stay and offers fantastic potential. Productivity gains and greater level of employee engagement boost a company’s bottom line whilst also offering benefits of a work/life balance.

About the Author
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Jessica Thava
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