Increased flexibility in employment is a fundamental reality in today’s labour market. Popular with employees looking for a better balance between their personal and professional lives, these flexible ways of working are indeed source of great benefits, but also cause some drawbacks for employers.
Providing opportunities for employees to control their working hours to fit their needs allows them to not only be less tired and less stressed, but ultimately more efficient. It’s difficult indeed to be efficient when running to be on time at daycare everyday or when loosing two hours in transit.
Flexible jobs also ensure a reduction in absenteeism and tardiness due to transport problems, in addition to creating greater employee commitment to their businesses.
Allowing for irregular working hours can furthermore benefit both employees and customers. Workers are happy to talk to customer and provide excellent service from dusk until dawn.
Attract and retain the best
In the context of skill shortages, offering flexible positions has the advantage of encouraging talented candidates to apply. This is especially true for the young in Generation Y, those who often reject the traditional 9 to 5 model. Flexibility is often a component of the employer’s brand of some companies, who do not hesitate to insist on this point at the top of their website’s Careers section.
Offering flexible working conditions also ensures better employee retention by increasing their levels of satisfaction and, thus, reducing the costs associated with high turnover rates.
Contacting an employee working from home or during odd hours is more difficult than it would be if that worker was in the next office all day. Ultimately, this situation can lead to a less performing worker who needs a stronger work-frame than others. Virtual means in the form of teleconferencing exist, but opting for a more expensive solution that Skype is sometimes necessary to obtain reliable and quality communication.
Risk of burnout
More flexibility often results in hours of intense work for employees. Working eleven-hour days to shorten one’s week to just 3 days, as recommended by the multibillionaire businessman Carlos Slim, is possible, but the accumulated fatigue can lead employees to make mistakes, to run into difficulties trying to concentrate, or worse, can lead to burnouts.
A less cohesive team
Being part of a team where everyone works at different paces is complicated. Those at home can feel isolated and excluded, and even feel a sense of exclusion. At the same time, deciding to grant flexibility to one employee but not to another can create a sense of injustice. Such conflicts between employees will harm the team’s cohesion.