After an extended period of remote work, employers and employees alike recognize the benefits of flexible schedules. That doesn’t mean they’re done with the office, though. Most employees report that their ideal work situation would be to split their time between home and the office in a flexible, hybrid model.
Flexible schedules can keep a portion of your workforce at home on any given day, making it easier for staff to physically distance. In addition, flexible scheduling can help you adapt to changing expectations about work while also giving employees greater control over their workweeks.
Think a flexible schedule might be right for your organization? Here are some tips for putting one in place.
Proactively Planning for the Flexible Workplace
Flexible scheduling doesn’t mean employees show up as they please. Instead, it’s good practice to proactively create a plan for how you’ll implement these options. Doing so helps you better control the number of people in the office while also striking the ideal balance between giving employees flexibility and enough predictability to plan their work.
So how do you go about creating a flexible schedule for the workplace? First, there are some questions you and your fellow leaders will need to answer:
- What are the capacity limits of your workplace, and how will this change as public health improves?
- Which roles benefit most from being in the office?
- Which teams should be in the office together for collaborative purposes?
Once you have that information, you can start to piece together a schedule. There are four general approaches you can take.
Approaches to Flexible Scheduling
- Staggered Shifts
A staggered schedule—where employees are given different time slots for arriving and leaving–is a great tool to offer employees a predictable schedule that provides more flexibility than a traditional one.
This scheduling strategy can be ideal for employees who either cannot work from home or prefer to work onsite. Going forward,the most significant COVID-19 safety concern in offices may be overcrowding in elevators and lobbies. In these cases, a staggered schedule could reduce workplace crowding throughout the day.
Employers can also implement this type of schedule when public health improves to give employees more choice around when they work. People can select shifts that align with children’s school schedules or other personal needs. Staggered schedules can be implemented alongside another type of flexible schedule if necessary.
- A/B Team Scheduling
Employees can be sorted into groups based on their teams. For example, managers can divide their team into Group A and Group B. From there, each group can be assigned a set, predictable schedule for coming into the office. For example, one group may work in the office on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, while the other may come in on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
This gives employees a high level of predictability they can plan around, and it’s easy for leadership to manage, though it is slightly less flexible than other models. Organizations that adopt this model should work with managers to develop ways employees can stay connected with colleagues in different groups.
- The Compressed Work Week
A standard 40 hours is expected of full-time employees, but those hours don’t need to occur at the same time each week. Compressed workweeks let employees work longer days for a period of time and then take an extra day off.
For example, an employee could work four 10-hour days and then take the fifth day off. Or, they could work nine 9-hour days and get one day off every other week. Employees appreciate the extra time off, while managers enjoy granting extra flexibility without sacrificing the number of hours employees put in.
- Flextime (or Custom Schedules)
If the above options are too rigid, your organization may change employees’ schedules weekly to fit each team’s needs.
One way to accomplish this is to let managers set custom schedules for their teams. Managers are uniquely positioned to create effective schedules because they understand how much in-office time their employees need to do their jobs effectively and with whom their employees most often collaborate. However, this approach does require more time and effort from managers.
The highest level of flexibility you can offer is to allow employees to customize their schedules. Of course, this model will still require manager approval, and it’s helpful to establish some ground rules employees must follow. But when done right, it can result in high employee satisfaction and productivity.
The schedule you choose for your team will ultimately depend on your unique needs and may shift as public health changes. Regardless of how you go about it, being proactive about managing your flexible workplace can make your company more productive and a more desirable place to work.
Leading companies and organizations are rethinking where, when and how we work for a better, more resilient future. Learn how Georgia Commute Options can help prepare you for what comes next, including telework and flexwork consulting and commuter support available at no cost to employers in the Atlanta region. Get started here.