October 23, 2012

Flexible Work Options = Low Cost Productivity or High Motivation

With more and more companies becoming global, it is not so important that everyone show up at the office or plant in order to get their work done.  The introduction of the “mobile office” concept for traveling manager and salespeople came about as a way to help them do work while on-the-road.  Does this concept work for other employees as well?  Working from home (aka home office) is the newest example of a flexible work schedule and has become quite popular since it can save the company space while still getting key functions done by employees who may have reasons not to come into the office every day.  Being able to get work done anywhere and anytime motivates employees to do their best work when they choose to focus on their job tasks.

Before working from home and mobile offices, many corporations instituted flexible work schedules within their plants.  These “flex-time” schedules could mean an employee choosing to work hours outside the normal office hours or it might be working different hours on various days to provide the worker time to be off for a child’s school function or a personal appointment.  As long as an 8-hour day was put in by the employee, they could do their 8-hours within a 2 hours window of their standard start or stop working hours.  The only issue with this attempt at work-life balance was when people shared a work-station over shifts.  To keep in the 8-hour frame, employees had to work together to ensure both shifts are covered without inconveniencing job functions.  If this could not be worked out among the employees’ hours, then the employee who needed the change in hours would have to take time-off for the hours that were not worked during the 8-hour shift.  This type of flex hours must be discussed with HR representative in order to weigh the pros and cons and determine if it is within company policy.

Whether the above worked or not, many companies instituted something called “Flex Friday” as another alternative to try for work-life balance.  This provided the benefit of giving people extra time off on Friday or a 3-day weekend.  How it worked was employees could opt to work 1 of 2 alternatives if approved by their work team and immediate supervisor.  Alternative 1 was to work four 9-hour days and only 4 hours on Friday (employee electing to do this worked with the team to decide if they got off at lunch or came in for the 2nd half of a shift) for a 40-hour week (9x4days+4hours). Alternative 2 was a 40-hour week where the employee worked 4 days at 10 hours each.  Many companies let employees choose whether they want to take the typical Friday or opt for Monday off instead.  A 3rd flexible Friday alternative companies can consider is called ”9/80” work schedule where employee works 5 days one week and 4 days the next at 9 hours each day. 

Does your company offer flexible time or mobile office options?  If yes, please share the interesting options they offer in the comments below.  If you participate in a flexible work option, how does it help you be more productive or motivated?

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