Flexible Working Disadvantages

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In our work in implementing hundreds of flexible working systems for tens of thousands of employees, we at FlexTime have found that there are several arguments cited against the introduction of flexible working arrangements. Indeed in the FlexTime blog elsewhere on website we consider if flexible working suits everyone?

So to start with organisations need to :

  • Take a serious look at the appropriateness of current working time arrangements as well as the impact of the policy in respect of where employees work now
  • Compare that to what can be achieved through combining newer, more effective practices backed up by clear and agreed rules of engagement combined with web technology specially designed for managing the flexible working environment
  • Appreciate how research confirms that absences, overtime and staff turnover will all reduce through flexible working

Frequent concerns

  • Heating and lighting costs. Some will argue that because buildings might in some cases have to be left open through a wider bandwidth, extra lighting, and heating costs can result. However, there is an equal and some say a much more compelling and opposite point of view on this too.  That view maintains that a well managed flexible working policy, whereby job sharing, hot desking and home working are applied, it means that working space can actually be utilised in a more efficient way and can SAVE costs!.By developing a sound energy policy matched with flexible working arrangements which can result in facilities being run more cheaply, it provides management with new choices and decisions:  for instance
  1. To introduce a plan to regulate light and heat supply and usage in work spaces that are not being used due to job sharing or home working
  2. To reduce space needed due to it’s less regular use or in some cases where it is not being used at all e.g when full time home working exists.
  3. To use the newly available space in different ways

For example: Often organisations are sometimes hard pressed to find space to hold meetings – some even resorting to hiring external rooms at a cost.  FlexTime customers are now using VisionTime Room Booker to support this more efficient method of utilising workspace.

  • Will staff be available when needed? Some managers can fear an exposure as employees may now not always conform to a fixed working day or maybe even location.Naturally, when any new concept is introduced, a certain amount of adjustment is required. This is why we recommend a pilot period of one or two staff groups and their supervisors. Initially, departments may not always be fully manned during flexible times. Then whereby other arrangement such as, home or mobile working and hot desking, are in force it ccan add to the “physical” non availablity of employees.

However, considering flexible working hours specifically, concrete evidence shows that even with the opportunity of flexibility, people still tend to set their own arrival and departure patterns and to stick to them, in the main. Ironically, it can often mean employees reverting to a type of fixed hours.

But the key point is that now there is a personalised working time pattern at play.

While this can be geared towards the employee’s own needs, importantly he/she also has an obligation to balance that flexibility with organisational considerations too. Overall, therefore, because daily habits are, in general, reasonably predicable and with the core period of the day ensuring a “condensed attendance”, flexible working hours has been shown to be at least compatible with workplace cover and can in fact enhance it.

Such patterns can be predictable because employee decisions about working time is governed now by matters such as wanting to avoid traffic, catch a train or by personal commitments. The fact that not everyone in the workplace is the same age and at the same stage of life means that each person creates their own personalised working time pattern.

This reasonably fixed behaviour by employees is connected to the very issue that flexible working sets out to solve; the employee’s work/life balance.

In a survey carried out in one organisation, 1,000 calls were made to staff before the introduction of flexible working hours and again after. It was found that they were just as easy to contact on flexible working hours as they had been on fixed hours.

A more recent trend towards employees increasingly working from home or in a mobile setting, brings separate challenges. Therefore in any given day an employee might not be physically for a growing range of reasons.

Apart from FlexTime’s role in advising organisations in these issues, undoubtedly our innovative VisionTime system acts is a major comfort for organisations grappling with modern workplace arrangements.

VisionTime works in real time on an “always on” basis and across technology platforms such as PCs, Mobile phones. Nobody needs ever to be in the dark as regards to what is happening – either employees or managers. 

Users have confessed to being astonished as to how one system can handle so many complex and almost competing scenarios. But then we have been working solely on its development for 32 years. Of equal importance we also have the support of thousands of organisations with tens of thousands employees in our efforts. 

  • How can we be sure that staff will be available when needed?VisionTime has features to counter issues such as the concern over poor workplace cover caused by employees using flexible working. This includes a report called the Cover Report which shows how many employees have been available for work during the various segments of the working day over a specified date range.If managers are worried that employees are not available during critical operational times, they can find out how many people were present between 9.00 and 9.15 in January. Or how many were available yesterday between 12.00 and 13.00.Meanwhile other reports can look at varying aspects of how attendance needs to be handled.If your organisation does not offer a flexible working hours’ scheme, can you easily find out just how many staff were actually available yesterday between 12.00 and 13.00?The answer is probably not. And the reason for this is that your staff is unlikely to be clocking in or out. This is an essential prerequisite for people operating flexible working hour schemes.VisionTime also has an option to ensure the smooth running of the scheme called VisionTime Who’s In. Using this, management has an overview of any group of employees regarding behaviour and how working time arrangements are being treated.
  • The time recording system: The system itself can be viewed by some as a disadvantage in this context. Some staff might initially be uncomfortable at the prospect of having to use a time recording system. According to our latest independent research, those concerns are totally unfounded and the opposite is the case.The research found that over 1,000 VisionTime users strongly felt that they have enhanced job control which points to them being less stressed than employees not using the system. Therefore after a short while the benefits to be gained tend to override that concern.
    • Punctuality no longer needs to be rigidly watched
    • A permanent and personal check on worked time is kept
    • There is an appreciation that because of the sheer flexibility of what is being offered, and the associated calculations required, that management would not cope without such a system, and thus flexible working would be a non starter

    Some organisations might feel that they can offer flexible working on an honours basis – as they trust staff. Trust is not the primary issue here and the main consideration is the loss of shape which would become quickly evident in the organisation trying out flexible working on an honours basis.

    FlexTime has more than 30 time devices providing a huge choice in how employees clock in and out.

    VisionTime ensures that shape will be kept, meaning that flexible working will not only stay for good, but allows new flexible routines to more easily emerge to the benefit of management and staff. This includes home and mobile working, term time, time in lieu, individualised working time arrangements, varieties of job and work sharing.

    Such wide combination of flexible working arrangements are becoming commonplace in our user group. It might be a fearsome consideration, were it not for the availability of a system specially designed and fit for the purpose.