Alternative Work Schedules
Is the traditional 9 to 5, 40-hour work week extinct? Not exactly, but – whether it’s requested by employees, instituted by organizations, or simply evolving out of technological connectedness – alternative work schedules are on the rise in North America.
Younger generations (Gen Xers and Gen Ys) may embrace alternative work schedules more than Baby Boomers and Traditionalists do, but all generations, as well as their employers, can benefit from a change in routine.
Job sharing is an alternative work arrangement in which two employees voluntarily share the responsibilities of one full-time job and receive salary and benefits on a pro-rated basis. Job sharing has become increasingly popular in a number of North American organizations and can provide terrific benefits to both employers and employees. Even at the most senior level, some organizations have tried co-CEOs with varying success.
Many employees seek out alternative work schedules to improve work-life balance, such as employees returning to work from parental leave or employees who are easing into retirement. Once this balance is achieved, employee stress decreases and energy at work increases. Employers may find that employees who participate in job sharing demonstrate more enthusiasm for their work, are more productive and have greater commitment to the organization.
Job Sharing Challenges & How to Avoid Them
It’s important to consider the challenges of job sharing. For employees, they may find it more difficult to advance in their careers, as there may be less opportunity for training. In addition, they may find that they receive less recognition as a ‘serious career person.’
Employers and managers must increase communication to ensure that information and processes run seamlessly between co-sharing employees. And in some instances, employers may need to mediate potential work space difficulties or personal conflicts between co-sharers.
Flex-Place Work Arrangements
Fle- place work arrangements (aka telecommunicating) is even more popular than job sharing. It allows employees to work from home via communication technologies such as email, messenger programs, Internet meetings and teleconferences and to have flexibility around the standard work times. Modern technology is making this type of work arrangement easier and more efficient. Like job sharing, flex-place work arrangements can aid employees in achieving a desired work-life balance.
This type of work flexibility offers a number of benefits. The most obvious is a reduction in office overhead costs. Another key benefit is increased employee productivity. Without having to commute and with fewer interruptions, employees are able to get more done in their work day. Flex-places also broadens the labour pool since geographical limitations are often alleviated.
Flex-Place Challenges & How to Avoid Them
For a flex-place work arrangement to remain mutually beneficial for employers and employees, it’s important to keep in mind some potential pitfalls. Some employees may feel ‘out of the loop’ or even ‘invisible’ working at home. Employers must reassure employees that their work is visible and communicate with them frequently.
Another common pitfall for employees who work at home is the tendency to overwork. Living and working in the same space can make it challenging to turn work off at the end of the day. It’s crucial for virtual / flex-place employees to set regular working hours, so that they don’t lose the work-life balance they were hoping to achieve by working remotely.
For some employees, a lack of social interaction and face-to-face communication can be difficult. Therefore, it is important to schedule regular touch points with remote team members and plan for quarterly or annual live meetings if possible.