Sunday, January 12, 2014

Pros and Cons Of Flexi Work Hour Policy

Mithila Mehta details the pros and cons of implementing a flexi work hour policy

The sun is fast setting on the days of 9-to-5 jobs. Welcome to the new-age, and to flexible corporate setting where employees have greater control over their work hours, courtesy the concept of flexible working hours.

Conventionally, employees are expected to work stipulated eighthour shifts, but flexi-hours allow them more freedom. Typically, employees will be expected to be present during the 'core period'— that time of the day when the workload is the most. This is comprises about 50% of the work-day. The rest of the day is considered flexible, with employees deciding what time they would like to work, as long as they achieve the total work hours as expected by the employer.

Technology and increased connectivity has ensured that flexihours are a viable option for companies today.

Flexi-time benefits

The benefits of flexi-time are manifold, both for the employee and employer. Says Sabeer Dasgupta, chief operations officer, InMobile Solutions, "We operate on a flexitime policy and have reaped its benefits. Ever since we switched from regular hours to flexi-hours, about two years ago, the results have been phenomenal.    For one, employees are more efficient and motivated to work, the turnover rate has reduced and absenteeism has fallen. Additionally, we are able to extend our service hours for clients because we now have someone on the support desk at all times."

Sudipta Ray, HR manager at a leading beverages company adds that a company having flexible work-hours is able to attract better talent. "Flexi-hours are a huge bonus while recruiting talent. I have noticed that prospective employees may settle on the salary if they have the benefit of flexi work-hours. Additionally, the organisation builds a name for itself in the job market as being friendly and flexible."

Flexi-work hours allow employees to effectively meet their family and personal commitments. It is especially a boon for working mothers with young children or aged parents. Another major advantage of flexible working hours is that it allows employees to work at the time of day when they are at their productive peak. Alternately, those with a long commute can plan their work hours so as to avoid the stress of commuting during rush hours. This creates a win-win situation for both the employee and the employer.

For employers looking to implement a flexi-time policy, what are the aspects that must be kept in mind? Advices Ray, "Understand the dynamics of your business and expected work hours and plan accordingly. The transition to flexible working should be gradual and success will be achieved if the changes involve employees at every level, if it's appropriate for them to work this way, and through the management's support. It is important they are kept engaged and supported throughout the process."

Disadvantage of flexi-time

There are concerns over the possible disadvantages of flexible workhours as well. Says Arvind Rongala of Invensis Technologies, a business process outsourcing company based in Bangalore, "We have employees working round the clock, offering back office support services to clients across the world. Hence, it becomes critical that employees login and deliver the output on time which gives our employees less flexibility to decide their login hours."

Another concern stemming from flexi-work hours is lack of supervision of employees who work nonconventional work hours. This could possibly lead to non-compliance with company policies or tardiness. Flexi-hours may make it difficult to schedule physical meetings or presentations. Additionally, the feeling of bonhomie and unity that arises by physically being present together as a team in the same space is removed.

Explains Ray, "Flexi-work hours may lead to feelings of being disjoint or alienated among employees working non-conventional work hours. For any organisation, which operates in team-based units, this is definitely not a good thing." Finally, organizations may be faced with additional utility and overhead costs, as they must now keep their operations running for an extended period of time.

A flexible work-hour policy comes with its fair share of advantages and disadvantages. Companies need to weight both and take an astute call on whether flexi-hours will work for them or not, keeping in mind the intricacies of their operations, business patterns, client requirements and resources.