Flexible Working Hours? Right or Wrong

Flexible work options can benefit all parties involved; employers, employees, and their families. Many employers have recognized the good business sense behind offering flexible working options for their staff. To know more we need to cover the basics of what ‘flexible working’ is. 

Flexible Working

This is a phrase used for any working pattern that is designed to suit your needs. Common examples of flexible working are:

  1. Part-time work:

This is working for less than normal hours, maybe by working fewer days per week. Or l  fewer hours per day.

  • Flexi-time:

This involves choosing what hours to work, with some base hours or period during which employees have to work

  • Annual Hours:

Hours are calculated out for a year, usually in sets of shifts.

  • Compressed Hours

Working for the agreed hours over lesser days than the normal workweek.

  • Staggered Hours:

Different starting, break, and finishing times for employees in the same workplace

  • Job Sharing:

Sharing a single job position with someone else

  • Home-based working

Working from home

Disadvantages of Flexible Working

There are some disadvantages to flexible working which we need to discuss: 

Flexible working often means working from home

For an employee, working from home can sound ideal. However, it can be difficult for other family members to fully understand that although you are physically at home, you are working and not free to do ‘home stuff’.   

Flexible workers won’t be able to socialize, do housework or run errands any more than if they were in the office.

Blurring the home/work balance

Linked to the problem above is that when people work from home, it can be hard to keep a clear separation between work and home. It’s too easy to slip into working after office hours, particularly for people with an “I’ll just get this done” mentality. This means that workers end up working late hours and end up using up their all-important downtime.

When this happens, colleagues working different hours or time zones, or your employer, can end up thinking that it’s acceptable to contact other colleagues during hours that are not part of their working day. This ends up using up much valued time off with work matters.


Working from home takes a high level of self-motivation. It’s too easy to procrastinate and de; lay getting down to work. With no one looking over the worker’s shoulder, before they know it, half the day has gone. This can then cause them to use up their free evening hours to catch up on missed work hours when they should be enjoying time with family.

Communication Challenges

It can be difficult for people working from their homes to communicate with other colleagues (who may also be working from home themselves) will depend on individual situations and employers. 

However, technological difficulties play a role that should not be underestimated. Connectivity issues and technical issues can affect communication. Many people find it 

difficult beyond their expectations to work with colleagues who are working differently from them.  A much higher level of organization is needed to coordinate communications, collaboration, and delivery of team projects or linked tasks.

Flexible Working can cause Employee Isolation

working alone from home can mean that people can beat the commute rush, save on costs and be fresh and ready at 7 am, distraction-free, and ready to work. However, the social interactions are also cut out and remote workers lose out on the energy and creativity of working with others. 

Missing out on the encouragement, camaraderie and general buzz of working as part of a team can leave people feeling both uninspired and isolated. That in turn can have a knock-on effect on motivation and even the quality of work.

Reduced benefits

Flexible working hours can be of multiple varieties. If people are simply changing the times in which they work, their salary should not be affected but if they are working reduced hours, they will be earning less. As a result, the employer’s pension contributions will also reduce, and any bonus is likely to be pro-rated. You will also accrue less paid holiday.

Working flexibly can also lead to missing out on workplace events like training which happen when you are not at work.

Possible Lack of Career Progression

Flexible working is responsible for a major portion of organizations’ gender pay gaps.  Women who work part-time tend not to progress so far or fast in their careers (either willingly or unconsciously) and so earn significantly less over their careers than men in full-time roles.

Being Sidelined

It’s a fact that attitudes to flexible working in some organizations are still less than positive. 

While it may manifest itself in subtle ways making it difficult to take action, an employee that makes a successful application for flexible working may find themselves sidelined from decision making and career progression because their commitment is questioned.

The strain on the Employer

Whatever the advantages of flexible working, it’s important to know the disadvantages from an employer’s perspective.  For some managers, switching to a new way of working and supervision can be difficult as the concept of not being able to see what someone is doing may be alien.

Employers effectively take a gamble when they grant a flexible working request. For flexible arrangements to work there must be given and taken on both sides.  If not carefully managed, flexible working can lead to inefficiencies and a drop in work quality and communication.

The Advantages of Flexible Working 

Flexible Working Boosts Productivity

It can contribute to people being more productive, by allowing them to work when they are at their best. If someone is a morning person that might mean getting to their desk super early but allowing them to finish early too.

A Reduction in Overheads

Working from home or in a co-working space can massively reduce commuting time and costs.  A reduced commute (perhaps because flexible arrangements allow people to commute off-peak times and therefore reduce journey time) can also have a very positive effect, by reducing stress and lateness.

As an employer flexible working can mean reduced costs and overheads as less office space and equipment are required and employee travel costs are reduced.

Improved Employee Morale

Flexible working arrangements can increase employee well-being by reducing stress and strengthening loyalty.  A boost to morale helps with absences and can improve productivity.  Different working hours and the extended use of technology might even let employers offer extended hours, services, or a greater range of services to their clients.

Flexible Working Helps Recruitment

Recruitment is nearly always a key area for employers so building a reputation as an understanding employer who is flexible and who both trusts and accommodates their employees can enhance an employer’s reputation in the labour market.

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