What Is Flex Time? (With Definitions and Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

30 November 2021

Having flexible time is important for managing busy daily demands, such as family and personal obligations. Usually, companies have flexible working policies to allow employees a better work-life balance. Understanding what flex time is, how it's used and how to request it can help you achieve a better balance between your work and personal life. In this article, we discuss what flex time is and why it's important, provide examples of jobs where it mostly applies and list examples of flexible working patterns.

What is flex time?

As you explore new career opportunities, you may wonder, 'what is flex time?' Flex time involves adjusting your working hours to fit your schedule instead of following a traditional working-hour pattern. Flexible working patterns allow employees to start and finish their shifts in time, as long as they still fulfil their contracted weekly hours. For example, you may start work at 9am one day and 10am the next, working an extra hour later in the evening to accommodate the school run or other appointments.

Flexible working permissions vary from company to company, but some list it as an additional benefit, while others require a negotiation process to fit in both the candidate's and the company's requirements. Candidates may see flexible working hours offered in a job advertisement as a company benefit. Some companies may include the added benefit of working from home under the flexible working definition.

Related: 13 Types of Work Schedules (with Benefits and Challenges)

Why is flex time beneficial?

Adopting a flex-time policy is generally beneficial to both the company and employees. Employees may experience higher job satisfaction rates in a business that values their personal obligations. Below is a list of reasons flex time may be useful to a business and employees:

Promotes work-life balance

Flex time helps promote better work-life balance by accommodating personal routines into weekdays. With flex time, employees may start work later to take their children to school or find time for valuable self-care. Work-life balance is essential to mental and physical health and businesses may find that employees with better work-life balances may produce higher quality work. A business that makes accommodations for work may be more attractive to potential candidates, which increases their talent pool.

Many candidates may face balancing work and family life as a challenge. Flex working proves beneficial to families without childcare. Parents who work full time may benefit from later starts or earlier finishes to pick their children up from school or organise childcare. This may lead to decreased stress and higher quality output. This service is also beneficial for working parents, easing back into full-time employment after maternity or paternity pay.

Helps avoid commuting issues

Flex time may allow candidates to avoid commuting delays on public transport and roads. Travelling outside of peak times can help punctuality and attendance rates. Coordinating commuting times with less traffic may decrease stress and anxiety levels. Avoiding peak travel times may help decrease travel costs too.

Increases productivity

As employees have more time for their personal life and less stress and anxiety from commuting during busy periods, businesses may experience a boost of productivity. Improved mental health rates, reduced sick leave and potentially longer opening hours have the potential of high-quality production. This boosts revenue and hits key development milestones. This may also help team members progress in their careers, increasing their chances of promotion and pay rises.

Improves employee retention

Team members with flex time may experience more job satisfaction, which may lead to higher retention figures. Team members who feel valued and in good physical and mental form may be less likely to seek employment elsewhere, with lesser benefits. This creates company loyalty and may present higher career development opportunities. With a large talent pool, businesses can complete more projects designed to increase profit and hit the next development milestone.

Improves operating hours

In the absence of conventional working hours, businesses may have enough employees to keep trading later in the evenings. This is useful for industries that require regular contact with their customers. With more employees available, businesses can operate longer hours, potentially increasing revenue and promoting more development opportunities. Customer-facing roles may benefit from this the most.

Saves money on certain expenses

Some businesses may consider remote working a flexible working choice. Remote working is a great way to save money on commuting and expenses like lunch or dinner whilst at work. This may increase job satisfaction and allow employees to reach personal goals much faster. Remote working may increase productivity as employees feel more comfortable and confident in their own space. Even without remote working, employees that use public transport may financially benefit from not travelling at peak commuting times where prices may be higher.

Related: What is Remote Work?

What industries benefit from flexible working?

Different industries use flexible working patterns for different reasons. Some use it to increase job satisfaction, whereas others use it because their business is open for extended periods of time, such as in emergency clinical settings. Below is a list of industries that implement flexible working patterns:

  • Health care and clinics

  • Customer service

  • IT

  • Other industries that offer freelance and remote work

Examples of flex working patterns

Below are some examples of flexible working patterns:

Staggered hours

Staggered hours refer to hours differing from one employee to the next. This means that one employee may finish work at 4:30pm, while the other finishes at 6pm before business closure. This ensures consistent work flow at all business hours. This pattern may be beneficial for customer service-based industries that use phone lines or email engagement.

Varying schedules

Varying schedules refer to a regular change of working hours from one day to the next. For example, a team member may start work at 9am on Friday, but 10:30am on Monday. This schedule is beneficial for those who may have appointments or personal engagements and require regular flexibility. Regardless of the start time, those with variable schedules still fulfil their contracted working hours by either starting earlier or finishing later.

Split shifts

A split-shift is when an employee takes a large break during their working hours. This may be beneficial for those who work long hours in the healthcare sector, for example. Employees may work from early in the morning and take a few hours' break in the middle of the day before resuming their shift. This leaves ample time for rest and relaxation before finishing the day.

Short-term flexibility

Short-term flexibility refers to a system of flexible working, where an employee requires different working hours for a short period. This may mean you work reduced days in one month before resuming normal working hours afterwards. This may be beneficial for employees who have experienced an illness, new parents or those still in part-time study at university. This offers employees a chance to trial flexible working patterns to assess whether it makes a difference to their work-life balance or working quality.

R**elated: [What are Average Work Week Hours? (With FAQs)**](https://au.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/average-work-week-hours)

How to implement flex working

If you're a manager or leader, you may decide to implement flex time for your team members. Here is a step-guide you can use to help you:

1. Think of how it may benefit employees

Before employing any policies, assess whether the current working hours situation is beneficial or productive. This can be from a mental health standpoint or productivity. Consider encouraging employees to bring any concerns or queries about current working patterns to understand how they view existing working hours policy.

2. Get opinions from team members

After careful consideration, ask employees for their opinion on flexible working. This may be of value to employees and provide them with an excellent opportunity to ask questions. Getting their opinions may help you decide whether flexible working is necessary at all. This form of democracy may promote good communication and uphold integrity and transparency, fostering better working relationships and increased job satisfaction.

3. Develop a policy and rules for flex time

Once you have made your decision, develop stringent guidelines to ensure there is no abuse of flexible working patterns. These guidelines may help address any concerns or clear up any confusion. Ensure the rules are realistic and applicable to changing circumstances. You may wish to highlight the potential benefits from a personal and company standpoint, as this may lead to better reception.

4. Roll out flex time schedules

Your next step is to initiate the policy for flex time, but before implementing a permanent policy, set a trial period to see whether flex working is both practical and beneficial. Trial-based policies ensure managers can quickly return to normal operations, given that the policy was ineffective. During the trial period, consider getting the opinion of employees on how they receive flexible working patterns. This not only shows that you appreciate them but it also helps quantify the benefits of flex time.

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