The Benefits and Drawbacks of a Flexible Work Schedule
Today’s blog is written by Digital Giant’s Client Success Manager, Marissa Vanular
“We believe work isn’t a place you go, it’s something you do.”
For years I trudged through the typical 9-5 downtown job, commuting to and from on the GO bus. When I was offered the opportunity to come work for Digital Giants in Barrie, I jumped at the chance to be able to have a job that allowed me to follow a flexible work schedule and spend less time commuting and more time living.
Recent studies prove workers that have flexible schedules are more productive, happier and actually work longer hours!
And I would agree with that!
I started at Digital Giants in 2016, and work from home two days a week. A year and a half ago, I dropped down to working four days a week to spend more time with my young daughter.
On my first day at DG I received the employee handbook which talked about the fundamental belief at our company:
“Each person is free to do whatever they want whenever they want, as long as the work gets done.”
Digital Giants embraces a Results-Only Work Environment. ROWE is a human resource management strategy wherein employees are paid for results (output) rather than the number of hours worked.
From the handbook:
“We don’t make judgments or question how you use your time, where you do your best work, or when you might want to take a nap, go to a movie, or just chill for a while. This isn’t graded school. It’s a modern business. We trust our employees to make the best decisions for themselves, and for the organization. In a ROWE, we focus on measurable results.”
What is a flexible work schedule?
The Government of Canada defines “Flexible work schedule” as flexible work arrangements that allow employees to alter, on a temporary or permanent basis, their work schedule, the number of hours they work or the location where they do their work, or to take leave from work to meet responsibilities outside of work.
Benefits of a Flexible Work Schedule
Being able to adapt your work schedule to fit your lifestyle
For me, its all about my family. It was important to me to be able to drop off and pick up my daughter at daycare at reasonable hours. And on top of that, having the flexibility to adapt our routine if a need arose, like a sickness, a special event, or simply if you needed a break.
To ensure I stay on top of my work, I sometimes have to work in the evening or on weekends. I also check my email for any client emergencies during the regular workday I am not in the office. I gain flexibility and the opportunity to work more efficiently at different times.
A flexible work schedule is key to productivity in my mind and has been proven so. A two-year Stanford Study concluded that those who worked from home showed a productivity boost equal to a full day’s work.
Think about it – why try to work, when you know that you aren’t going to be productive. You can look at it in two ways:
Everyone has “off” days, why try to force yourself to do work that isn’t perhaps coming naturally to you. Take an hour, get some exercise or complete something at home that has been nagging at you. By stepping away from work to get yourself in a better mindset, means you are going to get more done in the long run.
Second – some people work better during “non-traditional” 9-5 office hours. Say you are an early riser and get more done at 5am?
Reducing your time and costs of commuting
The time and cost of commuting, depending on how far your workplace is, can be significant. When I was commuting into Toronto every day, it was the cost of my time: at least 1-1.5 hours each way as well as a financial cost: Go Train fees, the gas to get to the GO train station, etc. If you physically needed to drive yourself to the office every day, you can also factor in wear and tear on your vehicle, parking costs, etc.
A 2019 Study from the University of Guelph found that working from home can save the average commuter between $8,800 to $23,900 per year.
Two more benefits of not commuting:
- Reducing stress – Commuting can cause undue stress to a person from external sources like traffic, public transit delays, the crazy Canadian weather, etc.
- Lowering your environmental footprint – reducing carbon offset of driving as well as congestion on the road.
Time to be able to pursue other passions
Finally, a flexible work schedule can allow you to be able to pursue other passions, such as a sport or hobby, education or volunteering. Having a hobby can benefit you physically, emotionally and mentally, it can help you reduce stress and lead you to feeling more energized and creative in your job! Not to mention, pursuing other passions encourages us to achieve a work/life balance, something I believe everyone strives for.
Drawbacks of a Flexible Work Schedule
Staying on task
Ensuring you can put your mind to focus solely on a task is something that takes time and practice. Start by scheduling yourself – literally putting tasks in your calendar – and turning off all distractions – phone, email, etc.
Or else try working from somewhere other than home, perhaps the local coffee shop, or a library if you know you need help focusing and reduce distractions around the house.
As a creature of routine, the loss of a 9-5 traditional office job took some getting used to. But eventually, you will create your own routine that best fits your lifestyle and flexible work schedule.
By working more on your own, you do miss out on the traditional office culture and team bonding that can come with it. To combat it, make sure you routinely schedule face-to-face interaction with your colleagues. We have a standing monthly lunch where we either go out or cook a meal together and catch up. We also have a monthly lunch and learn where someone will present a topic beneficial to our industry or community.
Flexible Work Schedule Best Practices
Create a clear delineation between work and home
Set yourself up for success. Create a space in your home where you can be productive and if necessary, have a quiet space. This will mean something different for everyone, but ensuring you carve out a “workspace” in your home will allow you to separate work from your time at home.
Set expectations for friends and loved ones about availability
While the allure of a flexible work schedule means you can adapt your work schedule to meet your lifestyle, make sure your friends and loved ones understand you have commitments and projects for work that requires your full attention and your availability may change depending on the day, week or month. They cannot count on you to always be “available” because you “work from home”.
Make sure your flexible work schedule is contributing to the overall growth of the business. Without your job, you won’t have a flexible work schedule, so make sure it’s working not just for you, but for your team, your company and your boss.
A great TEDx talk by researcher Nicholas Bloom about flexible work can be found at: https://tedx.stanford.edu/lineup/nicholas-bloom
Do you have a flexible work schedule and/or work from home? Leave a comment or reach on our social channels and tell us what you see are the advantages or disadvantages of a flexible work schedule.