The world is moving faster than ever. In fact, it often seems like everything about our lives is changing – sometimes on a daily basis. From online shopping to cellular phones that access the internet, technology has often driven the changes we see. Our work place is no different. Once it was expected that a 9 – 5 job was just that. Today employers have the ability to offer their staff a variety of work methods. Telecommuting is particularly popular. Less well known is the idea of flex time. While not as many employers offer flex time, those that do believe it allows their work staff to be more productive. Learning about work options should be an important part of every candidate’s research and decisions making process when looking for and interviewing for a new position.
I love the idea of flex time. When I was around 10, my mom went back to work. She was offered flex time. It went like this: she worked Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning, and Pat worked Wednesday afternoon, Thursday and Friday. It was perfect. They both worked hard those 2 1/2 days to make sure their work was done. Their bosses never once complained, in fact the opposite. You couldn’t find harder workers. It gave both women time with their children and families while earning a little extra income. Awesome. Why don’t more employers offer it? I decided to do a little more research on it to find out.

The idea of flex time isn’t that new. Employees are offered the ability to create a schedule that works for their particular needs. The employer typically publishes a set of guidelines and then works directly with an employee to pick a flexible schedule that will allow the necessary work to take place in a timely manner while still allow the employee to be flexible. This concept has worked particularly well for working mothers or employees with unique family obligations. For example, an employee with a school age child may wish to adjust their hours in order to be home when their child arrives back from school. They may request a flexible schedule of 6 am – 2 pm. The employee will still work a full 40 hour week but will have the ability to address the needs of their child.
Typically both the employer and the employee see flex time as beneficial. Employers tend to see a higher rate of productivity in their employees; after all happy employees are productive employees. Additionally, the absentee rate typically drops as employees schedule allows them to focus their work time on work and their off hour time on other pursuits, such as family. They also note that the ability to work during off peak hours often gives them quiet time that can be used to focus on larger projects without the worry of customers or coworkers bothering them.
Deciding to ask for flex time is very much a personal decision. Anybody considering the move should first determine if their company is even open to the idea. Try approaching your manager about your particular needs–it might be the next step in creating a flexible schedule. Whenever possible this discussion should take place during the hiring process to prevent conflicts.
Flex time can be an excellent tool to keep employees happy, healthy and productive. It can also help manage that all too often forgotten balance between home and work life. If you are interested in the idea of flexible scheduling, don’t be afraid to ask. A clearly presented explanation of your request and the ability to work within the guidelines of your company often go a long way.