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Ask Kathleen-Answers to the Most Asked Questions About Flexible Work Schedules

Oct 9, 2007
Tired of working the 9-5 grind? Struggling to balance work and family? Why not look into alternative work schedules with your employer?

More and more companies offer flexible work schedules, or flextime, for their employees. These alternatives help employees balance their jobs, their families, and their personal responsibilities. Flextime is different for everyone and can be used in different ways to fit your lifestyle.

Q: I have heard a bit about flextime from my friends but am still not sure how it works. What exactly is flextime?

A: Flextime is simply a work schedule that is not 9-5, Monday through Friday. Flextime can be either a full time commitment or a part time one.

Two common types of alternative full time work schedules are variable work schedules and compressed work weeks.

A variable work schedule consists of core hours and flexible hours. Core hours are times designated by the employer that all employees must be at work. Flexible hours are hours when employees can choose when and possibly, where to work. These are the hours that allow employees to work around their personal responsibilities.

A compressed work week is fewer work days each week with longer hours each day. For example, an employee could work four 10 hour days and have a three-day weekend.

And there are many other variations both in full time and part time working arrangements. You and your employer are only limited by your imagination - and, of course, the job that needs to get done!

Q: I have been working full-time for 15 years and have never thought about a more flexible schedule. What are some of the benefits of flextime for my employer and myself?

A: Flextime is a wonderful opportunity that benefits you and your employer.

Benefits of flextime for the employer include longer business hours for customers to accommodate different time zones; decreased overtime costs; decreased tardiness and paid time off; increased productivity and employee satisfaction; and increased recruitment opportunities and employee retention.

With flextime options, you and your fellow employees will enjoy personal control over work schedules; the ability to adjust work schedules to meet personal needs; the opportunity to work at personal peak times; less stress; increased job satisfaction; and easier work life balance.

Your family and friends will also benefit from your flexible work schedule. You will be able to spend more time with those who need you and better perform the role of a father and husband.

Q: I work a full time 9-5 job. How do I know if a flexible work schedule is right for me?

A: Alternative work schedules may not be for everyone but they are great for those who have other responsibilities during the regular 9-5 work day and who still want to continue working full time.

Do any of these situations sound familiar? You have an elderly parent who needs medical treatment or your child gets home from school at 3pm to an empty house, or you would like to return to graduate school taking some classes during the day?

Flextime could provide a flexible work schedule so you could be with your parent at the doctor's office, meet your child at the door when he/she returns home or attend classes for that coveted advanced degree. It could provide this flexibility while also keeping a full-time salary, status, and the potential for advancement.

If this sounds like something you struggle with, then flextime might be just the thing you need!

Q: I am a working mother and want to be able to spend more time with my kids when they get out of school. My employer does not currently offer flextime. How can I ask about flextime opportunities?

A: The first step is to ask your employer about flextime so you are on the right path! Focus on this as an accommodation and not an entitlement. Your job performance and excellent work ethic will prove that you can handle a more flexible schedule.

Concentrate on solutions and benefits of flextime and not the things you dislike about your current schedule.

Have a thought out proposal ready for your boss. What are your needs and your job responsibilities? You can offer your boss a time frame with measured results. Set aside time each week to discuss the flow of information and overall job performance with the new schedule.

Offer benchmarks so your boss knows that your job responsibilities will be met.

Most importantly, be positive! Many companies have benefited from flextime. It is an inexpensive and successful way to improve employee's job satisfaction.
About the Author
Kathleen Wiant has spent most of her professional life balancing work and motherhood. A mother of five children, she has been a stay-at-home Mom, worked part time and worked full time. Visit us!
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