Team Collaboration: What It Is and How to Improve It
What exactly is team collaboration? The answer might not be what you think. Lear...
Work/life balance is vital for your employees’ health, happiness, and well-being. And, as many employers are discovering, it’s essential for their productivity as well. That’s why increasingly more managers are offering flextime instead of the strict 9-to-5 workday.
How, exactly, can flextime improve your business? In this article, the productivity experts at Sling show you all the benefits of this unique work schedule.
Flextime is a flexible schedule in which workers can alter workday start and finish times.
Employees are still required to work a set number of hours per day (e.g., eight) or per week (e.g., 40), but they are allowed to choose when — within agreed-upon limits — they will clock in and when they will clock out.
It’s those “agreed-upon limits” that make flextime unique as a work scheduling practice. If you implement flextime in your business, you might set the following restrictions on when your employees can work:
With the above example, an employee could begin work at 5 a.m., work eight hours, and finish at 1 p.m. Or their workday could start at 1 p.m. and end at 9 p.m.
This is fine if employees work autonomously. But if they work together as part of a team, you could run into some problems.
That’s why flextime usually incorporates core time. Core time is set hours when all employees must be present. It’s during this span of time that meetings and collaboration occur between employees working different flexible schedules.
For example, if you used the flextime limits listed above (not earlier than 5 a.m. and not later than 9 p.m.), your core time might be 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Here’s a hypothetical team schedule — including a one-hour lunch break — built around this core time.
Sarah: 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Chuck: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Ellie: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Anna: 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Diane: 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Morgan: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
As you can see, all seven team members start and end at different times, but they’re all present between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. (the core time).
During these three hours, you can organize any number of activities, including:
Flextime makes it easy for your employees to create a schedule that fits their life, gives your business the time it needs, and includes both private and group work.
But flextime offers even more specific benefits to both your employees and your business. We’ll delve into those benefits in the next two sections.
The benefits of flextime are myriad and encompass everything from peak productivity to preferred work habits.
Below we’ve listed three basic benefits of incorporating a flextime schedule. Examine the concept of flextime for yourself and we’re sure you’ll add more to this list.
Childcare can be one of the biggest headaches for a working parent, especially if their partner is working too. What if there’s a school delay or cancellation?
With flextime, your employee has the option to report to work and leave work later. That makes it easier to deal with changes in their child’s schedule.
Offering a flextime schedule can transform the idea of continuing education from fantasy to reality.
With a flextime schedule, employees can report to work after their class has finished (say, at noon) and still get a full eight-hour day in. At the other end of the spectrum, they can work a full eight-hour day and still have time to take a class or two in the afternoon.
The daily commute can add an hour to your employees’ workday. With rush-hour traffic, that hour can quickly become two (or more).
By offering a flextime work schedule, you give your employees the option to miss the rush hour completely. That gives them more energy for work in the morning and more time with their family at night.
Because it’s extremely adaptable and provides for a better work/life balance, a flextime schedule can actually improve mental health.
Burnout is a very real concern for employees in all types of businesses and is characterized by:
If you see your team starting to exhibit the signs of burnout mentioned above, consider implementing flextime as a solution.
Plus, if you incorporate a compressed workweek as well as flextime, you can build a mental health day right into their schedule.
Flextime reduces conflict between coworkers in two important ways:
In regard to that second way, your business can use flextime to bring coworkers together for group work during core hours but also give them time to work by themselves.
Coworkers who have a conflict with each other will benefit from even just a few hours apart and will be more able to work together without issue when the time comes.
Team morale is a fickle thing. When it’s low, everyone will feel it. Low morale results in poor performance, lack of motivation, and even a deep dissatisfaction with their job.
If you allow low morale to persist long enough, increased employee turnover becomes a very real issue.
High morale, on the other hand, results in stronger team bonds, a deeper sense of camaraderie, and a willingness to cooperate that may not have been there before.
Going from a 9-to-5 schedule to a flextime schedule often results in a significant boost in employee morale. Experiment with scheduling to see how it can benefit morale throughout your business.
And for more advice about morale, take a few minutes to read this article from the Sling blog: 7 Tips To Boost Employee Morale For A Better Work Environment.
The cornerstone of every successful team is collaboration.
The core hours of your flextime schedule motivate team members to come together during that time for collaboration and group work.
Because each employee is on a different schedule, when everyone in the group is present, the team will take advantage of this fact and make time to get together to brainstorm, cooperate on common tasks, and talk about the project at hand.
Flextime is a great way to promote collaboration without forcing the issue and mandating that everyone must work together for at least three hours every day.
Employee absenteeism can have a serious impact on your business. It may not seem like such a negative thing at first — everyone has emergencies.
A flextime schedule gives your team members plenty of room to deal with emergencies without impacting the number of hours they spend at work.
When they know that they can make up for the time they would normally miss by coming in early or staying late, your business’s absenteeism and tardiness numbers will go down dramatically.
In many cases, your business can use its flextime schedule as a recruiting tool to attract top talent.
Flextime can also reduce costs associated with the day-to-day operation of your business.
If your schedule also incorporates a compressed workweek (which is easy to do with flextime), your team members may only work four out of five days a week.
Even working a half-day or closing the office one day every other week can result in significant savings over the long haul.
Before implementing a flextime schedule, talk to your employees first.
Not everyone will benefit from this novel scheduling model, so finding out how the majority of your team members feel about it can help you avoid hurt feelings and keep you from doing a lot of work that may turn out to be for naught.
The best way to go about taking the pulse of your employees is to schedule both group and individual interviews (perhaps during a mid-year review) so that a single employee’s voice doesn’t get drowned out among more powerful personalities.
The best way to start when implementing a flextime schedule is to establish your core time first.
If your team normally works together in the afternoons, you might want a mandatory block of time together after lunch. If your team normally works together in the mornings, that mandatory block of time could be before lunch.
It’s essential to start with your core time first because it dramatically affects the outside limits of when employees can start and finish work.
For example, if you know you want your team to have four hours of core time and your start-work limit is 5 a.m., your core time should begin by 9 a.m. at the latest.
This ensures that the early workers are able to leave after eight hours. In this scenario, everyone has to be at work by 9 a.m., but they could start earlier if they so desired.
As you can see, it gets a little complicated if your limits are too widely spaced. Most businesses establish a six-hour core time and then allow employees two hours of flextime on either side.
Once you’ve set the core time limits for your flextime schedule, we recommend writing instructions and guidelines that explain the process to new and current employees. The best place to do this is in your employee handbook.
There, you can go into detail about how the flextime process will work, the rules of the new schedule, and the choices that each employee needs to make about when they will start and end their workday.
It’s also a good idea to include a Frequently Asked Questions section (FAQ) that deals with common concerns that may arise about the changing schedule.
The FAQ is also a great place to address details and questions that may come up after the new process is in place and running.
You can simply add another question and answer to the bottom of the list without having to rewrite the entire flextime section from start to finish.
Allowing your employees to schedule their own flextime may sound like exactly what we’ve been talking about throughout this whole article.
In this case, though, it’s completely different.
Here, we’re talking about giving your employees access to the schedule before you finalize it and encouraging them to fill in their preferred work hours on either side of the core time.
Doing so makes it easier for your team members to craft the schedule that fits their life and takes the majority of the responsibility off your shoulders.
If you adopt this self-scheduling privilege, keep in mind that some employees may never change their schedule (e.g., they’ll always work 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.), while others may alter their schedule from week to week and even day to day (e.g., they’ll work 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. one week and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. another week).
When you offer the option of flextime to your employees, you give them a bit of freedom within a very structured system. Ditching the 9-5 — or at least being flexible about when hours are worked — helps your team members feel more in control of their own schedules.
We’re not advocating cutting employee hours down to part-time. Rather, we suggest trying new ways to accumulate 40 hours each week. Here are a few examples of flexible schedules that might work in your business:
Flextime is a wonderful incentive for your employees, but it is also a nightmare to schedule. That doesn’t mean you have to chuck the idea completely.
Instead, incorporate a cloud-based employee management app, like Sling, to give you and your employees the ability and freedom to create the schedule that works for your business.
Employees can access Sling anytime from their phones, mobile devices, or desktop computers. They can request time off, find their own substitutes, tweak their schedules to fit their needs, and so much more.
It also gives you, the manager, the ability to track the hours your employees have worked without your physically being there. The power and flexibility that Sling offers make flextime a very real option for businesses large and small.
For more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit GetSling.com today.
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This content is for informational purposes and is not intended as legal, tax, HR, or any other professional advice. Please contact an attorney or other professional for specific advice.