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A Million-Dollar Work Schedule:
Alternatives to Choose from

In this day and age companies make use of a wide range of work schedules by alternating the duration of workday, time of the day and days of the week for their employees. We all know about shift work, part-time versus full-time options, staggering hours (when employees start their work at consequential times), compressed work (when daily hours are extended to reduce workweek) and overtime. Also there is a growing list of alternative work schedules that adds a wow-factor to our office routines.

Understandably, work schedules cater for the type of work itself. It is pre-defined by the way the work gets done most effectively. As long as there is work, there has to be a fitting work schedule. The only exception from this rule is freelance. Freelancers are not employees in the regular sense as they choose their own workload and hours through temporary contracts. For most of them there is no clear borderline between free-time and work. Scheduling for them is equal to fortunetelling – it may be very accurate or vague and subject to change. Having mentioned freelance, let’s now focus on the rest of the business world where employees still have to show up in their offices.

Nothing sounds duller than office hours, but there is a silver lining to a stale 9-to-5 routine. A fresh look at work schedule flexibility offers a mind-blowing selection of what else your office time may look like.

Flextime

One of the most progressive work schedules is flextime. This allows employees choose their own hours (usually during daytime) or work remotely. It improves work-life balance for employees and allows them to enjoy the most productive time at work. Besides this is a perfect format for international companies that have to consider time-zones and schedule important conference calls and on-line meetings across the Atlantic, for instance. In such cases overtime is not an issue as employees start their work day later. Other clear benefits include high job-satisfaction rates, increased motivation and job-retention, an ability to prioritize private and family interests etc. – and continue to show excellent results at work.

Possible flaws and remedies: It may be quite hard to navigate through the chaotic schedules of your colleagues and allocate time for internal meetings and real-time collaboration, or to make sure people work a fixed number of hours a month. However, this problem is easily solved by accurate planning and time-tracking. Software like actiTIME can turn pandemonium into order. Another concern is that flextime should be a compromise between a worker and the employer. There may be urgent situations that may require sacrifices on both sides, sentiments aside. Flextime should be treated sensibly.

Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE)

It is a format that is even more flexible than flextime itself! Employees can get the work done the way they want (wherever and whenever) without too many deadlines and productivity metrics. They are paid for results rather than for the hours worked. Since this time-management strategy came into shape it has been implemented by such retail giants like Best Buy and Gap Outlet, for example. ROWE corporate culture is meant to improve employee productivity, accountability and engagement.

Possible flaws and remedies: ROWE is limited to certain business areas only. According to Gap experience, it becomes hard for employees to find an adequate work-life ratio and thus leads to burnouts and high turnover. Possible solutions include adopting a multiyear strategy, so workers plan their time better and work reasonable hours a day. Another problem is related to the no-show practice, as some employees never show up for work. This can be solved by an improved motivation to come to the office for weekly meetings or corporate events.

Job Sharing

A rather unique way of flexibility at work, however, it may be just what you’ve been looking for. According to a SHRM study, it may be a new alternative for lowering turnover and gaining on productivity in many spheres of business – an “unsung hero” of achieving great flexibility and work-life balance. So what is job sharing? It is a special work arrangement that allows two people to share one full-time job. A clear benefit is that the employer gets two talents half-price. It is great for workers as they can have a lighter workload and go on with their lives. Benefits and vacation accrual is based on the contribution and total number of working hours of each employee - so no double costs.

Possible flaws and remedies: One of the common concerns related to a job-sharing option is management and split of responsibilities and tasks between two employees. An ideal situation is when two employees have complementary skills and act like a single individual. It may be a harder task for HR people, as they have to find a perfect match between job-sharing partners. In case there are problems it may be instrumental to reach former employees, who quit for “family reasons” or contact closely knit alumni associations to obtain high qualified and exceptionally talented candidates. Another potential issue with job-sharing is accountability. Job-sharing may lead to missed or unfinished tasks due to miscommunication between two partners. This, however, is unlikely to happen, as job sharing motivates employees to act like one and strive for shared reward and success. Such format only works if there is a high level of trust and understanding between partners – they are two sides of the same coin.

To conclude, alternative formats for work schedule is a reality we have to acknowledge and embrace. Companies want to achieve the same goals: improve work-life balance and increase productivity of their employees. Thus, flexibility of work schedule should be set ahead of other things. We believe that flextime, ROWE and job sharing are topnotch alternatives for cost-effective changes you should consider.

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