Flex Time: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Late nights

Flex time is a double-edged sword for managers, teams, and employees – a great idea in theory, that also comes with its own challenges for everyone involved. However, as an essential tool for happy, healthy, and productive teams – it is worth learning to manage effectively.

The Good

Flex time, when done well, is one of the best tools I’ve ever seen for creating happy and productive teams.

  • Lets people manage their lives on their schedule. It’s a whole lot more productive in the long run to give someone an hour to run home to meet the handyman than have them spend hours on the phone trying to find someone that can come outside of business hours.
  • Facilitates working during their most productive hours. Morning people get the early shift, non-morning people get the late shift.
  • Creates trust and goodwill. You boost these two critical business success factors in and amongst your team when you develop a culture that allows for flex time.

The Bad and the Ugly

But, creating an environment that supports flex time can be a challenge. From not being able to find the “right” people when you need them, to having a hard time calling meetings, to basic trust issues around not being able to “see” people working, a flex-time environment has unique challenges that must be addressed.

  • Off-hours emails. One of the smartest managers I know once said to me, “Well, I was working on a Sunday, but I didn’t send the email to my team until Monday morning because I didn’t want them to feel obligated to work on the weekend.” She was one of those rare tuned-in people that truly “gets” that not only are we all connected 24×7, but also that the manager sets the tone for the team. And, if she started sending emails outside of traditional business hours that she would be setting a precedent she did not want her team to adopt. Can you, instead, save your email in drafts until business hours and send it then?
  • Core hours. This takes some of the “flex” out of flex time, but for some teams, or teams at a critical point in a project, creating core hours when everyone is expected to be in the office is the best way to allow for the advantages of flex time without hamstringing a team. If necessary, set core hours (say between 11 and 3) when all employees are expected to be there. 
  • Calendars. You already know that managing expectations is key to any businesses success, and doing the same with work schedules is critical for flex time to succeed. By making use of online calendars, your team can mark their out-of-office times so you know – at-a-glance – who is in and out of the office, as well as when you can expect someone back. There are a lot of online team calendar tools, many of them free, that you can take advantage of that will also sync to your desktop calendar and smartphone.

Does your team take advantage of flex hours? What other tips and tricks could you suggest?

About Jen Waak

Jen Waak is a health, wellness, and fitness coach that works with entrepreneurs and other crazy-busy professionals to help them have the bodies they want without having to give up their lives. Also the author of the Keyboard Athletes Guide to Pain Relief & Prevention, Jen lives, trains, and coaches in Seattle, WA. Sign up for her no-cost course How to Have the Body You Want (Without Giving Up Your Life) at http://KeyboardAthletes.com.