Flexible Schedules: A Benefit for the 21st Century
Working 9 to 5 is so last-millennium, when most white-collar workers were tethered to an office, and a clear line existed between work and home.
That's all changed. Today, companies are more flexible, employing workers connected to the mother ship only by their laptops and Starbucks' Wi-Fi. For companies with flexible schedules, the "work day" is open to interpretation, and for some employees, 9 to 5 can mean 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Flexible schedules have their benefits.
Flexible schedules allow employees to work when they're at their best. If a worker is a morning person, he can work in the A.M. If he fades at 2, he can take a siesta and return to work when he's more rested later in the day. In the end, a more energetic worker is a more productive worker.
Life happens, kids get sick, the cable guy can only come between 2 and 4, and your dentist can fit you in only at 10:30. Instead of calling in sick or taking paid time off, flexible schedules let employees put in a full working day before or after they attend to personal business.
A University of Minnesota study, "Changing Work, Changing Health: Can Real Work-Time Flexibility Promote Health Behaviors and Well-Being?" found that employees who had flexible schedules got almost an hour more sleep during nights before work. They were less likely to work when sick and more likely to get medical attention when they needed it. Ultimately, flexible schedules improved health and energy, and decreased stress and work-family conflict, the study found.
Flexibility attracts talent
Employers who offer flexible schedules are better able to attract talent, especially millennials who value their independence and work-life balance. In fact, the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College says that employers who don't offer a flexible work environment "may find themselves at a competitive disadvantage in recruitment of talent for their organizations."
Sometimes it is hard to offer a flexible schedule: receptionists need to be at their desks at 9:00 sharp, for example. But you may find that many other positions lend themselves to flexibility, and increased productivity plus a happier workforce is a win-win situation.