5 Fresh Ways to Adopt Flexi-Work In Your Company
A few months ago, we had discussed how flexible work options may be ideal in today’s scenario where people are ridden with terrible work commutes and are sandwiched with responsibilities of caring for elderly parents and/or children and so on. While there are still several gaps between expectations and execution for the smooth functioning of this idea it may offer more benefits for the company that simply imagined earlier. Flexi-work, when implemented with a proper structure and accountability, can save a lot of costs and efforts for the company, and at the same time keep employees happy.
While we have already made a strong case for flexi-working in one of our earlier blogs How to Make Flexible-Work Policies A Success For Your Company, we have come across several fresh perspectives and concepts as well, that are being successfully implemented across the globe.
Here are five fresh flexi-work arrangements you can consider:
1. Job sharing:
Job sharing is a flexible work practice, usually between two people, to share the responsibilities of a full-time position. In practice, job sharers may choose to work half of the week, or perhaps split the hours of the week with their colleague. This type of arrangement is ideal for people who have to prioritise some personal situations and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
People often job share during a transition in their lives like becoming a new parent or pursuing further studies or caring for ageing parents or due to health restrictions. The responsibility and ownership that comes with it, of course, determines the productivity of the employee.
How to implement it?
Although job sharing sounds complicated, it’s straightforward and simple. There are many ways to set up and implement a job share, but the bottom line is the arrangement should be designed around the role and needs of the company. Once the job sharers decide the handover strategy, decision-making, and communication processes that work best for their team, those involved experience positive results when working with them.
Building an entrance and exit strategy into your job share agreement will help reassure you that your job share works for everyone. The days and times of the week each colleague works and shared or divided responsibilities are changeable, but the common element is a handover period and seamless communication between them.
Advantage: Job sharing works in most roles. Be it sales and client-facing jobs, leadership and team management roles, knowledge-based roles, highly transactional roles, and even senior roles in global, organisations.
2. Compressed workweek:
This is a concept that lets an employee work full-time hours over fewer days. It allows employees to work longer hours on some days and accrue enough time for an additional day off. The most common type of a compressed schedule is a four-day workweek in which employees work full-time but still clock in the required number of hours for the week. Several employees often prefer compressed work schedules because it means an extra day or two off each week and less commuting, especially in cities like Mumbai. When employees have more free time, they tend to lead healthier lifestyles and will probably take fewer sick leaves.
How to implement it?
The most common way companies use a compressed work schedule that allows them to stay open five days a week but with some employees off each day. The key is to make sure the days off are fixed for each employee and to communicate it effectively to the team for work to flow seamlessly. Fewer employees in the office can mean a smaller office and also saves energy.
Advantage: Overall, it can help the company have a better handle on employee output as well when most of the work is completed within a given timeframe and structure.
3. Term-time working:
Term-time working is an arrangement where an employee is contracted to work a particular number of weeks per year on either a full or part-time basis. The company can arrange a non-working time at regular planned periods, which is accounted for by a combination of annual leave and unpaid leave.
Term-time contracts can be useful for working parents without family support. In such cases, the general idea is that their contracts allow them to cut down on the hours they work or allow them to take time off during school holidays.
How to implement it?
The truth is that not all organisations and roles will lend themselves to term-time working; therefore it is important to find a flexible working arrangement which suits your business interests. Once you receive a request from an employee for flexible working, you should discuss the change with them to see whether there are issues in accommodating the request, if there are other working patterns which could be explored and the pros, cons and costs of the change for the business.
Term-time work is an excellent work benefit in manufacturing companies or industries where seasonality is a key factor. Workers who avail of the scheme can have their pay spread equally over the 12 months of the year. Payment should be decided for everybody involved at the same time each year. Regularly reviewing the arrangement is also essential, like every month to make sure nothing slips through the net.
If you are not, however, sure about how this working arrangement will work out in practice, you can let them try it for a few months. You may discover it works well, or that it means you need to hire extra staff to cover their work or it is putting pressure on others to take annual leave outside school holidays times. In this case, you could explore other options discussed earlier like staggered hours, compressed hours or work from home.
Advantage: Not only can it help you retain key staff, but it can also help you attract a wider pool of candidates. It can also reduce absenteeism. When employees are unable to balance their work and home commitments, this can lead to them taking time off work and leave you in the lurch at the last minute and scrambling to find cover. Depending on the nature of the business, there may be some seasonable variations to business demands which means that this arrangement could work well.
4. Annual hours:
This is a system whereby employees are contracted to work a certain number of hours per year, while the actual hours worked each week may vary.
Again, companies that have varying demands for their products or services over the course of the year (small industries, like food processing and packaging or event based services etc, where there is seasonal demand) may find an arrangement like this useful.
How to implement it?
Employers can coincide working hours with demand rather than have periods during which employees are under-utilised, or where they have to pay for overtime or recruit temporary staff to meet the surge in demand. This offers some flexibility with periods of non-working so that employees can pursue other interests, travel or meet the family. Make clear terms on pay, holiday and sickness benefits.
Employers will also need to communicate to employees the schedules of when to work their reserve hours. They will want to ensure that all annualised hours employees work their full portion of reserve hours and will need to manage the call-in process accordingly to avoid anyone slipping through the gaps.
Advantage: There are benefits in annualised hours to both employee and employer. The approach means that the employee has a regular income each month. This gives stability when managing their personal finances. The employer can manage the volume of work without paying overtime or bringing in temporary workers. Periods of low activity can be managed without the need for lay-off and redundancy.
5. Phased retirement:
A phased retirement includes a broad range of arrangements that allow an employee who is approaching retirement age to continue working with a reduced workload, and eventually transition from full-time work to full-time retirement. Some older employees want to retire and never punch a time clock again, opting instead to enjoy golden years full of family, travel, golf, and other activities. But for a growing number of older employees, keeping a foot in the professional world, even after reaching retirement age, is appealing.
How to implement it?
Phased retirement means different things to different companies and employees, whether it’s part-time work, job sharing, or telecommuting. But in every case, flexibility is necessary in order to make this kind of transition work, and more businesses and employees seem to be showing interest in the possibilities.
This can be offered to anybody with 10 or fewer years of service left. It may help to have these types of employees on an annualised contract and track the hours that the employees put in. If an employee works 80% of the hours, then their pay should be fixed at 80%, with commensurate bonuses etc. This also reduces the cost of the company. This means one should ensure when the employees are called in on their reserve time, in advance, and when they can take their time off. It helps to also have a proposal to transfer their knowledge to newer employees who may take over their responsibilities and also help ensure business continuity.
Advantage: It’s a great way to use experienced hands at the company, and offer respectful exits. Experienced workers want or need to keep earning a bit of money, while others simply don’t want to completely let go of their jobs. For these kinds of people, a phased retirement may be the right move. For the company, it means employees that are very well-versed with the work and can reduce the cost of hiring and training lots of new people. Other advantages include lower attrition, absenteeism.
For many, flexible working is a practical solution. Cutting lengthy commutes (between an hour and an hour-and-a-half-long) can, therefore, have a positive effect on personal wellbeing as well as being a practical measure. For employees, it allows them to better balance their responsibilities in other areas of life or improve their work-life balance. If employees feel less stretched, they are less likely to feel the negative effects of stress.
Therefore, the sooner your company adopts any or more of these alternative strategies, the happier you will keep your employee, and also ensure less attrition, more effective output, and overall business growth!
Interested in implementing a solid flexi-work policy for your company? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Author Profile: Deepam Yogi is an adventurer at heart, socially conscious in her gut and professionally a strategic consultant. She co-founded Yellow Spark to support organisations to build workplaces that people love being a part of. Deepam describes herself as a shy yet opinionated writer, and firmly believes that most answers to complex issues lie in simple communication.