Best Practices: Formalized flex-time

Peer advice how to effectively run a business in which employees work wherever and whenever they want

Written by ProfitGuide

If you and your employees get stressed just thinking about juggling work and life, you’re not alone. New technologies, increasing competition and family responsibilities have left many people squeezed for time. For this reason, the idea of flex-time (employees’ work hours are flexible so that they fit into their other life commitments) is a popular one in management books and MBA programs across the country. But when it comes to real-life practices, a poll of PROFIT readers revealed that 27% had a formal flex-time policy in their workplaces. Here’s what both sides had to say:

“We have flex-time and it is managed on a team-by-team basis,” says John Stafford. “It is at times controversial and difficult to manage. It requires open communications between the team leaders and the employees and many compromises from those who work earlier and later. There is no magic solution other than communication, proactivity, open discussions and listening on behalf of management to the employees, etc.”

“Technically, our company has flex-time,” says Anonymous. “However, the extent of the flexibility is that we can come in anytime as long it is during our core business hours of 8:30 am to 5 pm and we get our 7.5 hours in per day. Which in the real world is not that flexible nor conducive to addressing how various people work, especially sales and programming.”

“The best practice is to hire people who you think are motivated by the prospect of doing good work and getting the job done, rather than by the prospect of hiding in corners and avoiding work,” says Jeremy Chan. “The fact is that one will never be able to effectively police one’s own employees without alienating them or making them feel like children. The cloud of suspicion just makes the workplace hostile.

“People should be held accountable for work that they’ve been assigned. If the work is subpar, or not enough is getting done, their reviews should reflect this. If the level of performance is unacceptable to the company, they should be let go. If you have a star employee who gets her work done despite the appearance of slacking off every once in a while (or even a lot), does it even really matter? Be glad that you found someone that can work twice as efficiently as most.

“A good manager should also realize that different people have different work habits. Some prefer a more structured workday, and others work in spurts of creativity and energy.”

For his answer, Jeremy Chan will receive a copy of Advantage Play: The Manager’s Guide to Creative Problem Solving by David Ben.

Look for the next Best Practices poll in next week’s PROFIT X-tra.

© 2005 Rogers Media Inc.

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com