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If you’re looking for ways to raise productivity and reduce overhead at your startup, you might have come across the term ‘flextime’. This is a concept in which workers are offered the option of flexible hours and increased opportunities for telecommuting in an office setting.
The employee is primarily in charge of setting his or her own hours, with management approval. Flextime is often used in corporate settings to raise productivity and employee morale. Firms and their staff have found it to be an efficient strategy, and many startups are encouraged to adopt the pattern.
The policy is an appealing company benefit to many prospective employees because it allows members of the team to work on a schedule other than a nine-to-five and in locations other than the office, but it demands particular management skills.
It’s possible and often easier for startups to use this approach to labour, but it will take some prior planning and preparation. If you’re wondering whether flextime is right for your organisation, the information here can help.
Overcoming the flextime myths
An effective and efficient flextime policy starts with a strong organisation. Flextime is a common practice in Fortune 1000 companies that have learned how to operate on flextime without losing productivity and revenue.
Employees at these major organisations spend about 50% of their time away from the desk, and in most cases, they’re able to raise productivity and reduce overhead.
Their practical efforts began by getting past the common myths about flextime in an office setting. According to an article , the many misconceptions about flexible work include the myths that productivity falls, remote teams are more difficult to manage, company culture gets lost, and instituting the new technology is difficult.
However, findings from Fortune 1000 companies who have managed a stable policy of flextime prove the opposite is true. Productivity tends to increase, remote teams can be easier to manage, the technology is mostly simple to use, and the company culture typically adapts with little effort.
Major corporations sing the praises of flextime, but it’s not for everyone. There are flaws to the idea, which can magnify in organisations that aren’t ready for this style of operation. Some of the most common flextime flaws include:
- Difficulties in communication between project team members
- Some employees are less productive in this environment
- Misunderstandings among employees who don’t know how to use the program
- Workers who take advantage of the system
- Gaps in service
These drawbacks don’t apply to everyone. You would be wise to address these potential pitfalls with your startup team and determine whether they could outweigh the benefits of allowing more flexibility at work.
Instituting a flextime policy
Despite the fact that flextime has become popular among corporate officers, it’s too easy to get it wrong. You might develop a flextime policy, only to see it ignored by employees who aren’t sure how to work with it. On the other hand, gaps and mismanagement of the policy can be ripe for staff abuse.
As you institute a flextime policy, be wary of the consequences of your actions. Carefully prepare a strategy that will outline employee interactions and prepare your staff for the changes that will come.
Here are some ideas for ensuring the policy works.
- Measure productivity during flextime: Without ongoing metrics that survey team interactions and levels of productivity, you risk failing to perceive the efficient benefits of the program. Institute a program of metric measuring so employees don’t take advantage of the system.
- Foster a community culture with telecommuting employees: If your company culture isn’t designed to handle the flexible hours and absentee workers, a flextime program can hardly be a success. The first step in creating a company culture that adopts flextime is education. Keep in mind that nearly 90 percent of people say they’d be happy working outside the office if the opportunity presented itself. Educating employees on the processes and benefits of the new system makes adoption much easier.
- Get everyone on board: Most people want flextime, but they need to feel validated as you move toward adoption. Engage your staff in the entire process; listen attentively to needs and try to address any concerns along the way. Allow employees to share constructive opinions and ideas that could make the process better. When you’re a small startup, this is a simple step that could potentially be handled in a single meeting.
- Develop common practices: The beauty of a working flextime system is that employees feel as if they have more control, but they’re still working under strict regulations that motivate productivity. Developing common practices helps to maintain a system that works for everyone while keeping people on the same page. For example, you might say that everyone is required to be in the office on Wednesdays from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. for collaboration purposes. Setting deadlines that people are expected to meet can also help keep operations in line.
Flextime can be a beautiful tool, but it takes thorough planning and careful preparation to work. The myths cited above can become reality when an organisation doesn’t control its flextime activities.
If you want flextime to work in your startup, developing a sound system is essential.
Feature image: Nick Webb via Flickr.