Dog barking through a conference call or accidental pajama sighting on a video chat? All businesses trying flex time have funny stories of the home office gone awry. But what happens when the silly mishaps becomes more serious issues?
Flexible office policies are more common now that improvements in communications technology allow us to stay connected while away from our desks.
Research by MomCorps shows employees value the greater work-life balance that comes with flex time and may be happier with more freedom to organize their schedules. But unlike the 9 to 5 thats been our standard schedule for decades, flex time, by nature, is variable. And many companies are still experimenting with how to make it work.
"I'm a huge advocate for flexible work policies, says Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of FlexJobs. But there are certainly times when the arrangements you've set up are just not working.
When thinking through a flex time policy or evaluating one that may be getting out of hand, here are some of the common pitfalls to look out for.
For most people, flex time means work-from-home time. The problem is that the home office rarely resembles the work office. The demands of daily life -- from chores to appointments and childcare -- blend into business hours and can easily distract employees when it comes time to work.
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Even with the best technology, having more employees on the move makes it difficult to connect. Most companies offering flex time try to set guidelines for staying in touch. But coordinating schedules can be challenging for collaborative work sessions or all-hands team meetings.
Keeping track of employees while theyre out of the office can add stress for managers. Its difficult to keep employees motivated when work competes for their attention at home. Joanne Deck, a success coach at Nurture You, says its important to keep flex time objectives in mind so that managers can figure out the best way to help employees stay engaged.
Many companies worry about losing productivity when they adopt flex time policies. Its harder to know what employees are working on and how projects are progressing when managers cannot regularly see and engage with them. Companies often have to adjust their productivity measures, like assessing employee performance on results achieved instead of hours worked.
Hurts the Bottom Line
Companies cannot predict when business may suddenly kick into high gear. When key team members are out of the office or hard to reach, it can be challenging for businesses to respond to real-time demands. Worse, having too few employees around can leave managers short-staffed when they most need their teams.
Should You Experiment With Flex Time?
If you start seeing these signs, should you drop your flex time? I think the really important thing to consider, before ending your flex program altogether, is why these failures are happening, says Sutton Fell.
If youre having problems connecting with your employees, it may be worth considering new protocols to better keep in touch. If youre concerned about productivity, you might want to think about new ways for employees to demonstrate project achievements or completed tasks.
Keep in mind that it's more common for the administration of a program to fail, rather than the actual program itself, says Deck. Remember that flex time is still experimental, and its important to remain flexible.
Experimenting with your own flexible work arrangement? Learn How To Make Flex Work Work For You