Do Flexible Schedules Really Create a Healthier Workplace?
Working nine to five is the usual definition of the daily grind. It is a fixed time slot. Then why is it so difficult for people to schedule their lives around this particular slot of time? In theory, 7 o’clock is not a bad time to get up and start the day. Make breakfast, shower, dress, walk out the door no later than 8:25am, and punch the time clock onsite at 9:00am. It could work if you are single with no children, maybe.
What’s the problem with a fixed slot of time?
The problem with a fixed time slot is that almost every important business related detail of a person’s life revolves around the same time slot. Banking hours, Mechanic hours, government service hours, outpatient medical service hours, and juvenile education hours are just to name a few. And many of these services require at least 30 minutes or more in order to resolve any issues.
What is a flexible schedule and for whom does it work best?
The United States Department of Personnel Management defines a flexible work schedule as an alternative work schedule that helps an employee balance work and family or personal responsibilities. Flexible work schedules will consist of core hours and flexible hours. Core hours are the part of the schedule when the employee has to be present onsite in order to accrue their work hours. The flexible hours are when the employee can choose when they will arrive and when they will leave.
This type of flexible work schedule is best for those employees who have children that range in age from birth thru primary school, have elderly or sick relatives for whom they are the main caregiver, and those who are involved in programs or activities that promote a greater community. The first two are self-explanatory, but the third can be rather subjective. Teenagers who are involved in youth sports and other educational activities need adult coaches, officials, and supporters to run the programs, so that it can work for the good of the whole community.
Why executives are the employees who most commonly use flexible schedules.
Research studies on flexible work schedules have shown that it is executives who have the most difficult time with work and family balance. A meta-analysis was done on published studies in the United States and Canada, the results showed that employees who had high job involvement also had the most work related interference with their family life. But, their family life did not interfere with their work.
What are the three dimensions of Work/Life Balance?
1. Work interference with personal life.
2. Personal life interference with work.
3. Work/Personal life enhancement.
Reasons why flexible schedules work to create a healthier workplace
– The flexible schedule is designed by the employee with input from others, which makes it a collaborated effort to get everyone on the same page. Therefore, the work environment is more supportive of the employee’s effort to stay productive in the work place, creating less work place stress.
– Employees with the flexible schedules use daily planners more often to keep them on task. Time slots are outlined, highlighted, and assigned a designated task. This helps the employee make time to schedule physical and mental health activities.
– Studies indicate that the schedules produce employees who sleep better at night, cook at home more often, and exercise more during their awake hours than those employees with fixed or involuntary schedules.
– Studies indicate that employees with flexible schedules drink less alcohol and smoke less than those employees with fixed or involuntary schedules.
What kind of work environments are better suited for flexible schedules
The results of the studies done on work environments have shown that results based work environments with flexible schedules proved to be the healthiest and most productive. The flexible schedules produced less negative spillover of work into family life by cutting down on conflict regarding family related responsibilities.
The hidden truth in the studies
Studies indicate that employees who are fortunate enough to work in an industry where they have the option of a flexible schedule can help to create a healthier workplace. An important thing to note is that most studies indicated that women get more of a benefit from flexible schedules than men. However, the fact that it is available to people in executive positions where men are still in the majority, negates that benefit.
How to create your own flexible schedule to produce a healthier workplace
Whether you have fixed or traditional work hours use a daily planner. Use your daily planner to highlight and schedule tasks and activities that are important to your personal life. This will allow you to have structured control over your productivity.