The concept of flexible work hours is becoming increasingly popular within the corporate workforce in current times. The popularity of the concept is understandable given the numerous advantages it offers to both the employee and the employer. It seems to be the perfect practice that keeps the relevant part of the workforce happy and at the same time, gets the job done. But like all good things, it has its downside, which makes it necessary for the concept to be handled with due care.
Employees that seek flexible work hours do so for a multitude of reasons. On a tangible and quantifiable level, it saves time and money for employees choosing to work from home by reducing commuting time and costs, both of which, in turn, can be used for more worthy purposes. But it has myriad advantages on an intangible level too. For example, a young working mother can combine the dual roles of provider and caregiver to growing children without leaving the comfort of home. This, in turn, translates into financial gains in terms of savings on babysitting or daycare costs.
The employer too stands to gain by being able to retain skilled employees who might otherwise need to quit because of demanding work schedules. So an organization that allows a part of its workforce to work from home helps the concerned employees to better juggle their family and work requirements, and wins goodwill as a thoughtful and considerate employer.
Moreover, in some cases, allowing a part of the workforce to have flexible work hours by letting it work from home creates additional work stations at the main workplace and enables the organization to hire more people.
An additional advantage of the concept of flexible work hours, whether it is in the form of working from home or simply having flexible work hours at the office, is that it allows employees to work at a time that works best for them. For instance, someone who is not a morning person is not forced to be at work at 9am even if he or she is not very productive at that hour. So, in a system involving flexible work hours, an employee can choose to work at a time of the day that best suits him or her, and the employer benefits because the tasks done are of a satisfactory quality.
This apparently is a win-win situation that works to the advantage of both employers and employees but can have its disadvantages as well. Working from home or having flexible work hours involves a high degree of discipline that every individual is not capable of adhering to. Moreover, there is a reduced scope for supervision from the organization if an employee works from home. So mistakes made take longer to get noticed and rectified, compromising the quality of performance.
In sum, productivity in flexible work hours is all about the fit between an individual and the organization. Just as some individuals simply function better in a flexible environment and manage to deliver their best, some organizations are better suited to have a part of its workforce working for flexible hours or even working from home, and managing to thrive under the circumstances.