3 Reasons to Offer Flexible Work Schedules

Many small-business owners fear flexible work arrangements. Here's why you should consider moving forward with them anyway.

Maurie Backman
Maurie Backman
Sep 20, 2018 at 8:02AM
Investment Planning

These days, a growing number of companies are allowing their employees to work more flexibly, whether that means setting up shop at home and telecommuting or establishing their own working hours. Of course, it's one thing for a large firm to offer flexible arrangements, but when you're running a small business, it's not as easy. That's because you're probably dealing with a limited staff coupled with copious demands, which means the more flexible you are, the more you risk falling behind on business-related needs. But while it's natural to be wary of offering workers more flexibility, here are three reasons to do so nonetheless.

1. You'll motivate your employees to work harder

Workers who feel respected and appreciated tend to go the extra mile while on the job. If you allow your employees more flexibility in their schedules, they'll likely return the favor in the form of harder work when they are clocked in.

Woman at a desk working at a laptop while a dog looks on.

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

2. You'll gain employee loyalty

Many small-business owners struggle to retain talent, especially in the face of big-name companies with the resources to offer higher salaries and superior benefits. If you allow your employees to work from home or set their own hours, you'll be providing them with a built-in perk that other companies might be more hesitant to offer. And once your workers come to experience that flexibility, they'll be loathe to give it up. That means you'll be less likely to lose key employees, and you'll avoid the time and expense that come with replacing them.

3. You'll improve your team's productivity

You might think that offering your workers more flexibility will result in less output, but recent data from the Flex Strategy Group tells us otherwise. Specifically, 60% of flexible workers are more productive, not less, and when we think about common barriers to efficiency, it makes sense. Imagine you have a worker with a lengthy commute. Take that trip out of the equation and suddenly that employee has more time to be at his or her desk getting things done. Not only that, but 45% of flexible workers feel they communicate better. That can lead to improved teamwork, thus helping productivity instead of hurting it.

Incorporating flexibility into your workflow

If you're willing to give flexible work schedules a chance at your business, be sure to ease into the process and adopt a trial-and-error approach. You might, for example, start by allowing only top performers to dictate their hours, and letting other workers follow suit as they prove themselves worthy. Similarly, if you're going to allow employees to work from home, you might start by letting them do so once or twice a week and then ramping up once you find that the arrangement works. Either way, the key is to ensure that the flexible arrangements you offer your team actually work for you and help the business (or at least don't hurt it).

Finally, don't hesitate to make it clear that while you're willing to offer your workers some leeway, that flexibility is an absolute privilege, and if they abuse it, they'll lose it. Flexible arrangements can work out really nicely for everyone involved, provided your employees have a solid work ethic and sense of appreciation. And if they don't, you can always revert to your former setup -- and perhaps consider rethinking your staff in the process.