A flexible work schedule policy outlines for employees an alternative to the typical 9–5, Monday–Friday workweek. It might allow for different daily start and end times or even a compressed four-day workweek. Employees who can customize their work hours can better manage their time and focus on their tasks. While there are no federal guidelines or restrictions on flexible work schedules, companies should still adhere to all other employment laws.
If you plan on allowing flexible working in your workplace, you need to create a proper flexible work schedule policy to ensure that expectations are clear. Below, we’ll discuss types of flexible work schedules, as well as laws to keep in mind and other considerations.
First, download and customize our free flexible work schedule policy template. Be sure to have your policy reviewed by an employment lawyer to assure compliance with any labor laws.
Types & Examples of Flexible Work Schedules
One significant benefit of flexible work schedules is that you can create a schedule that works for your company’s needs and your employees’ desires. Ultimately, you want a cost-effective and productivity-inducing flexible schedule for your employees.
Below are a few flexible work schedule policy types and examples. Take note that not all will work for every company, and you may need to take some ideas from one example and some from another to build your company’s policy.
Although these work schedule types can apply to both in-office and remote employees, a flexible work schedule is not the same as remote work or work from home. For more information on those, check out these resources:
Flextime gives employees the ability to choose their working hours. Your company can either mandate a few core hours of work or set a schedule where everyone attends an all-staff meeting once per week. Beyond that, employees can do their work when they feel most productive, so long as they are meeting their deadlines.
This setups recognizes that each individual has different hours of working efficiency—and restricting everyone to the same schedule can limit their productivity and effectiveness. In some cases, employees are producing effective work less than half the time they’re on the clock. If your business lends itself to letting employees work when they are most effective, you may see an increase not only in productivity but also in employee morale and engagement.
Did You Know?
Some 55% of workers consider flexible work hours more important to them now than pre-pandemic.
If you decide to implement flextime into your business, it is a good idea to keep track of your employees’ hours to ensure they are continuing to work their full schedule.
The University of Oregon has adopted a flexible work arrangement policy for administration officers and classified employees. Here are some of the key elements of its policy:
- Flexible work arrangements are based on the specific needs of the unit at that particular time and the ability of the individual employee to work effectively in a flexible work arrangement.
- Employee-requested flexible arrangements are a privilege, not an expectation of employment.
- Flexible work arrangements are not appropriate for all positions, times of year, or campus settings. The university is an organization with work environments that vary widely and require specific staffing to function effectively.
- Employees with flexible work arrangements remain subject to applicable university policies and procedures, collective bargaining agreements, and federal and state laws.
A compressed workweek gives employees the option of putting their 40 hours in during fewer working days. For example, you may give employees the option to work four 10-hour workdays and have three-day weekends.
There can be substantial cost savings with a compressed workweek. According to the U.S. Energy Information Association’s average monthly energy bill statistics, reducing the workweek by one day could save the average company over $1,500 per year just on electricity costs. The downside is that some clients and customers may not be able to get help during the three-day weekends. You could overcome that by having employees work staggered four-day workweeks—but then you lose out on the overhead cost savings of the office being shut down.
Fulton County (Georgia) Government has enacted a compressed workweek policy that allows its employees to choose between a flexible schedule and a shortened workweek. Here are its inclusions:
Flextime: Workday start and end times differ from that of the workgroup’s standard work hours, but the same number of hours per day is maintained.
Compressed Workweek: Full-time options that allow employees to work longer days for part of a week or pay period in exchange for shorter days or a day off during that week or pay period.
Hybrid work schedules can vary, but generally include flextime options that combine some in-office work and some remote work. As an example, you may allow eligible employees to work a more traditional, in-office schedule three days a week, while enjoying a more flexible schedule working remotely two days a week. Or you may provide the option for employees to work a handful of core hours in the office, while starting the day early or finishing the day late from home.
Did You Know?
Nearly 45% of digital workers said that working hour flexibility, such as that enabled by a hybrid model, made them more productive.
Hybrid work schedules can achieve the best of both worlds—colleagues get time to collaborate while in the office and time to focus when working remotely. Managers can check in on employees and their work progress regularly while still leaving some distance and not appearing as a micromanager.
Technology giant, Google, announced in an email to its employees a hybrid work policy (example above) with guidelines for their return to work following the global pandemic.
“We’ll move to a hybrid work week where most Googlers spend approximately three days in the office and two days wherever they work best. Since in-office time will be focused on collaboration, your product areas and functions will help decide which days teams will come together in the office. There will also be roles that may need to be on site more than three days a week due to the nature of the work.”
Applicable Laws for Flexible Work Schedules
Generally, what you do for one employee, you want to do for all. However, flexible work schedules may only work for particular roles, which is why defining when and to whom it applies is necessary. Regardless, you must ensure that your company remains compliant, no matter which flexible work option you choose.
Equal Employment Opportunity
When workers are distributed and not in a central location, that can create compliance headaches. Equal employment opportunity laws mandate that employers treat employees the same and not discriminate in wages, hours, and other conditions of employment. When implementing a flexible work policy, your company needs to ensure it is done without discriminating against any protected class.
Because some job duties will require a worker’s physical presence, they may not be eligible for flexible work schedules. Your company should include language in your policy that approval will be on a case-by-case basis. This decision should be made on nondiscriminatory factors, like an employee’s job duties and past performance.
Wage & Hour
Both federal and state wage and hour laws need to be reviewed before rolling out a flexible work schedule policy. If your company is offering a four-day workweek where employees work 10-hour days, that could have implications for overtime. For example, California law requires overtime pay for any hours worked over eight in a given day for eligible employees. So, if you have hourly employees working in California, your company would need to budget for two hours of overtime every single day with a four-day workweek.
This may present a cost-prohibitive situation for your company. Reviewing your state’s regulations will help you catch legal hurdles like this before you get too far along in the process. You can find these laws on your state’s Department of Labor website.
When employees work in an office or central location, their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance coverage will provide them with benefits if they suffer an on-the-job injury. But if an employee is working from home and gets injured while on the clock, do they get workers’ compensation benefits? Maybe.
Most states’ workers’ compensation laws have not been updated to address this shifting work environment. Your company cannot control the home workspace of your employees but may still be subject to paying out claims if they suffer injuries. Understanding the ramifications and getting the necessary coverage is critical to ensuring your flexible work schedule program is successful.
When a Flexible Work Schedule Is Appropriate
If your company employs workers who do not have to sit at the same desk at the same time every day, then you may be able to offer more flexibility with your scheduling. By providing this benefit to employees, your company gains more loyalty and dedication from your team.
Alternatively, certain jobs may not be suitable for a flexible work schedule. Some duties require people to be available during certain times of the workday, so working off-hours wouldn’t be conducive to company productivity.
Depending on the type of industry in which your company operates, you may have workers whose job duties would make it difficult for them to work anywhere but your location. For these workers, the flexibility you may offer is quite limited, such as with their arrival and departure times.
Pros & Cons of a Flexible Work Schedule Policy
From employee retention to increased morale, there are many advantages to implementing a flexible work policy. However, flexible work schedules also have some disadvantages for employers too. Considering these pros and cons before implementing a policy will help guide you to know what you do and do not want in a policy.
|Attracts and retains top talent||Lack of accountability|
|Improves employee morale||Can lead to decreased communication and teamwork|
|Reduces the need for special accommodations||Creates liability and security issues|
|Provides clear expectations||Drop in employee engagement for ineligible employees|
From increased employee productivity to creating a competitive advantage that attracts high-quality employees, workers want flexible work options that ultimately support your company’s success. Create a flexible work schedule policy that suits your company culture and makes your team the most productive.