16 Benefits of Flexible Work Schedules That Prove It’s Worth It
Every once in a while, something comes along and changes the way work happens. The assembly line. Automation. The internet. In 2020, as the world shut down amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, that change was the implementation of flexible work schedules.
While not a new concept, remote work and flex time allowed businesses to keep running during the pandemic. But many employees — and their employers — found the benefits of flexible schedules so great that 71% of human resources experts now believe the traditional work schedule is a thing of the past.
ZoomShift knows flexible schedules can be challenging for employers to organize, but the benefits for you and your employees can outweigh many of those struggles. Whether you’re looking to implement flexible schedules for your employees or have already made the switch, check out why it’s a good thing.
What are flexible work schedules?
Flexible work schedules refer to any agreement between employers and employees that allows employees to control:
- How many hours they work
- When they work
- Where they work
- A combination of any of the above
In practice, it’s any schedule that doesn’t look like a traditional 9-to-5, Monday-through-Friday workweek. For one employee, it may look like coming into the office three days a week and working remotely the rest of the week. For another, it may look like working early in the morning or late into the night.
That said, not all jobs are a good fit for flexible schedules. Some jobs must be done on location, like construction or retail sales. Other jobs have to be done at a certain time, such as call centers, which need to be open while the audience is awake.
9 benefits of flexible work schedules for employees
Flexible work schedules have become a top priority for employees since the pandemic, and the nine benefits of flexible work schedules below make it clear why.
1. Better work-life balance
The American Psychological Association defines work-life balance as the balance between the multiple roles in a person’s life. These can include work roles, family roles, and personal interests. Work-life balance has become more important in recent years, with 69% of people claiming it is very important in a 2023 YouGov poll.
When your employees have a healthy work-life balance, they feel satisfied and fulfilled in multiple areas of their lives and have an overall better quality of life. This is good news for you as a business owner: People who feel fulfilled in all areas of their life are happier, more engaged, and more productive employees.
2. Ability to adapt their schedule to their family’s needs
For employees juggling family schedules and responsibilities, flexible schedules are a lifesaver. Parents can work during the day while their kids are at school, stop work to care for them after school, and then get back to work after the kids are in bed. If their child is on a field trip or in a school play during the day, they can be an active parent without having to call off work. Employees who are caregivers for elderly parents or who have pets also appreciate being able to flex their schedules around their needs.
The ability to adapt their schedule to their family’s needs helps employees feel a better sense of work-life balance and minimizes stress levels, making them happier and more engaged.
3. Ability to work when most productive
Some people do their best work right after they hop out of bed, while others churn out work later at night. Others may need a long break in the middle of the day to eat a good lunch and stretch their legs with an afternoon walk before getting back to work.
Forcing everyone to work from 9 to 5 every day means you may be forcing them to work when they aren’t at their best, which minimizes their productivity.
4. Improved health
Employees with flexible work schedules often experience better health than those who don’t.
A flexible schedule allows them to take time for doctor’s appointments — especially preventative care, which often gets skipped when schedules get tight — without taking time off work. Flexible schedules also allow employees time to cook balanced meals and squeeze in more physical activity, like a walk around the block or a morning yoga class.
5. Avoid rush hour
In 2022, the average one-way commute was 27.6 minutes. That means your employees spend nearly an hour getting to and from work every day. With a flexible schedule, they can either drive to work at off-peak times or avoid it altogether, giving them more time to work or spend with family. Reduced commute times are also tied to increased happiness.
6. Increased autonomy
Psychologists believe intrinsic motivation, or motivation based on internal rewards like pleasure, is more effective than extrinsic motivation, or the motivation to do something to gain a reward or avoid a punishment.
Self-determination theory argues that human motivation is at its highest when a person’s sense of autonomy, relatedness, and competence is supported. By allowing employees control over their schedule or where they work, you are supporting their sense of autonomy, which positively impacts their motivation. As a result, they’ll be more productive and engaged in their work.
7. More professional development opportunities
Providing adequate training and opportunities for employees to grow in their skills is essential for strong people management. And employees want professional development opportunities, too, with 25% of employees willing to seek independent training in addition to their on-the-job training. This includes attending industry conferences or webinars and enrolling in continuing education programs.
Employees working flexible schedules can schedule work around these types of professional development opportunities, increasing their expertise and overall work performance, which helps your business thrive.
8. Decreased stress and burnout
American workers are no strangers to stress, with 25% saying work is their biggest source of stress. For 19% of Americans, juggling their work and personal responsibilities is the main cause of their work-related stress.
Since a flexible work schedule allows employees to manage work and personal life more effectively, it leads to decreased stress and burnout levels among employees. Since job stress contributes to health issues like cardiovascular disease, depression, and musculoskeletal disorders, flexible work schedules are not just a recruitment tool — they’re also a tool to keep your employees healthy.
9. Increased job satisfaction
Employees who work flexible schedules are 62% more likely to feel an increased sense of job satisfaction than employees who don’t. This may be because they feel more valued or because they can unplug from work to fulfill other aspects of their life when needed. Whatever the reason, increased job satisfaction is a boon for employers, which you’ll see in the next section.
7 Benefits of flexible work schedules for employers
While employees love flexible work schedules, employers can see many benefits, too.
1. Access to a wider talent pool
When you limit yourself to employees who live in your area, your applicant pool is smaller, which means you may not find the perfect candidate for the job. Instead, you can pick the best from what you’ve got or pay for someone outside your area to relocate, which can be expensive — the average relocation package adds up to $72,627 if the new hire is a homeowner.
By allowing flexible work schedules, you are not tied to the talent in a specific location, opening up the job to people around the world and increasing your access to the best talent without the expense of moving them.
This also leads to increased workplace diversity. Studies show that diverse workplaces:
- Are more innovative, creative, and strategic
- Make smarter decisions
- Experience higher profits
- Are more productive
- Have higher retention rates
- Are perceived as more socially responsible
2. Increased recruitment success
Workers want flexibility, so if you want to hire the best, flexible work schedules can help seal the deal with a potential employee. Research shows that schedule flexibility is one of the top three factors candidates consider before they choose a job. This is especially true for the most highly educated and experienced workers.
If all things are equal across job offers, a candidate is more likely to choose the job that offers the most flexibility. In fact, 79% of HR professionals report they’ve lost a strong candidate in the last year because their workplace did not offer flexible scheduling.
3. Improved employee retention rates
The average cost of recruitment is roughly four times the position’s salary, so retaining the employees you already have saves you time and money. Since 45% of the people who left a job in 2021 cited a lack of flexibility as their reason for leaving, it makes financial sense to offer your employees a flexible schedule.
As some businesses try to push for a return to a traditional work schedule, it’s creating tension with their employees: 77% of managers claim they are willing to fire staff who don’t return to the office full time, while 64% of employees say they would rather quit.
A high retention rate also boosts the experience level of your employees, leading to higher-quality work and a sense of loyalty and camaraderie that would be lacking in a company with high turnover.
4. Increased productivity, engagement, and morale
Employers often balk at the idea of flexible scheduling because they are concerned their employees won’t work if they aren’t at work, but research shows this isn’t the case:
- 73% of managers report their employees were more productive with a flexible work schedule.
- Employers also saw their employees work on average 15%-20% more per week when working a flexible schedule.
Several reasons explain this phenomenon:
- Employees feel respected and valued, which they repay by getting more done when they are working.
- There are fewer workplace distractions, with no opportunity for water cooler talk or people stopping by for a quick chat.
- Employees are in a more comfortable environment.
- Employees are able to avoid office politics, which can distract them from their work.
As companies require their employees to return to an office, productivity and engagement gains made during the pandemic disappear, suggesting that a lack of flexibility can be bad for business.
5. Increased attendance
Life happens, and people have to miss work — they have an appointment, their child is sick, they have the sniffles. Regardless of why they’re out, absent employees cost businesses $1,685 a year per employee.
By offering flexible work schedules, you decrease the number of employee absences. Your employees can schedule appointments around their work schedule. If a child is sick, they can still stay home with them while continuing to work from home.
6. More cost-efficient
Offering flexible work schedules is better for your bottom line. If your company is fully remote, you won’t need to pay for a lease on a building, plus you won’t need to pay water or electricity for that building, allowing you to invest that money back into your business. You don’t need to be fully remote to see financial benefits, either — a partial remote schedule can save employers $11,000 annually per employee.
Since flexible work schedules often result in better health for your employees, you may also pay less in health insurance costs over time.
7. More eco-friendly
While it varies based on your type of business, the average small business carbon footprint is 1-6 metric tons. By allowing your employees to work a flexible schedule, you can lower your business’s carbon footprint, improving your reputation within your industry and among the general public.
Types of flexible work schedules
Even if your employees aren’t able to work remotely, which is one of the most popular flexible work schedules, other options exist to provide employees some flexibility.
Compressed work schedules allow employees to work longer hours per day in exchange for fewer work days. The most common schedule involves employees working four 10-hour days rather than five eight-hour days. This differs from the recent push for a four-day workweek, which involves being more efficient and working 32 hours a week while still completing 40 hours of work.
However, compressed workweeks aren’t for everyone and can actually decrease productivity. Some employees may burn out or experience more stress with this type of flexible schedule, especially parents.
Flex time gives employees the ability to schedule their own hours. Some people decide when to come into work as long as they meet the required hour threshold. In other cases, it may mean asking employees to give you their availability for each week and then creating a schedule around those parameters.
Hybrid work is a good solution for businesses that want to offer a flexible schedule but want everyone to be in the office at certain times. Generally, employees work half their days remotely and the other half in person. This can be a loose schedule, where people can decide when to come in, or you can require it on certain days, such as when you have staff meetings or training.
Job sharing is when two employees do a full-time job between the two of them and split the pay and other benefits. The two employees can split the job 50-50, 60-40, or any other combination that works for them. However, job sharing can be challenging if the two people cannot work effectively as one person.
Part-time work is also considered a flexible work schedule because the employee works less than the standard 40-hour workweek. Part-time employees often share their availability with you and only work when it fits into their schedule. Usually, employee schedules are released on a weekly basis for this type of schedule.
For example, a student may inform their manager that they can only work after 4 p.m. on school days, or a mother may only be able to work during school hours. Like job sharing, part-time employees don’t receive the same benefits as full-time employees in the other flexible work schedule types.
Remote work is the most desired flexible work schedule, with 97% of workers preferring to work remotely, whether it’s full or part time. It’s also the most popular — 80% of people reported that they worked remotely at least some of the time in 202220.
For some employees, remote work entails working from a home office, while others prefer to work from an alternate location, such as a coffee shop, library, or other communal space.
For remote work to be successful, employees need access to a reliable, strong internet connection as well as collaboration and communication tools.
A split shift is a schedule in which an employee works two blocks of time separated by two or more hours. For example, instead of working a 9-to-5 eight-hour shift, they may work 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. in a day.
This type of schedule works best for industries like restaurants that experience clear busy times throughout the day. If your business is busy from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and then experiences a lull until 5 p.m., a split shift would allow an employee to work the lunch shift, have a break, and then return for the dinner rush.
Some states, like California, have specific split shift pay guidelines, so check your local regulations before implementing this schedule.
Since flexible work schedules benefit both employers and employees, it makes sense that 57% of employers have already committed to a flexible work schedule to stay competitive.
ZoomShift streamlines the work scheduling process, especially for businesses that offer flexible work schedules, with our easy-to-use hourly scheduling program. Start a free trial today or contact us to book a demo to find out how we can help you efficiently schedule your employees.
JD enjoys teaching people how to use ZoomShift to save time spent on scheduling. He’s curious, likes learning new things everyday and playing the guitar (although it’s a work in progress).