If there's one thing Americans aren't known for, it's for being slackers. In fact, 40% of U.S. employees put in more than 50 hours a week on the job, while 20% work more than 60 hours. Furthermore, many of those who fall into the aforementioned statistics aren't overtime-eligible, which means they're busting their tails for the mere satisfaction that comes with a job well done.
It's surprising, then, that a large number of companies still insist on having employees report to work at a certain hour, and leave at a certain hour (or later, of course), with very little wiggle room in between. Even workers who consistently put in 50 hours or more per week are often tied to a basic schedule, and are left at their managers' mercy when it comes to leaving early or getting in a bit late.
On the other hand, a number of companies these days are recognizing the benefits of offering employees a more flexible work arrangement, whether it's the ability to work outside normal business hours or condense one's workweek into four days instead of five. Here are just a few reasons to consider cutting your employees some slack and offering up some wiggle room in their schedules.
1. Better teamwork
It's hard to foster a team environment when you have some people pulling more weight than others. But if you give your employees the flexibility to work when they can but also keep up with life's responsibilities, they'll be more likely to pitch in when another team member needs time off and can't pull as much weight. When you force your employees to abide by a strict schedule, you create an environment where everyone is not only watching one another, but fighting to leave on time to the greatest extent possible. On the other hand, if you give your workers some leeway, they'll probably return the favor by joining forces, supporting one another, and delivering results.
2. Increased productivity
Another reason to consider a flexible work schedule at your company is that it might lead to better productivity among your employees. Some people, by nature, don't do well with rising early in the morning, but rather get their energy later on in the day. Others work the opposite way -- they like to get an early start, power through their various tasks, and leave early enough so that they're refreshed in time for the following workday. If you allow your employees to create customized schedules that best serve their individual needs, you might soon notice an uptick in efficiency.
3. Happier employees
It stands to reason that employees who are content in their jobs will be more motivated to work their hardest. Therefore, if you give your workers some scheduling leeway, they're likely to show some thanks in the form of better output. Imagine, for example, that you have a number of workers whose commutes are truly terrible. If you let them compress their workweeks or come in during off-peak times to avoid heavy traffic, they're apt to feel less stressed and more appreciative -- which, as a manager, will no doubt work out in your favor.
Of course, just because you offer your employees a flexible schedule doesn't mean they aren't accountable for key tasks and responsibilities. Furthermore, giving your workers that leeway doesn't mean that they're allowed to come and go as they please. Rather, you can, and should, insist that your team members map out their schedules in advance to the greatest extent possible so you have a sense of when to expect them and when they'll be available. But if you've been sticking to a rigid schedule to date, it pays to give the flexible model a try and see what it does for your business. It could end up being one of the best moves you'll ever make.