The Basics of Flexible Work Arrangements

Flexibility to balance work and life is a very important aspect of job satisfaction to 53% of employees. What are you doing to help employees improve their work-life balance?

When employees are confined to rigid work hours or a single work location, some will search for a job with more flexibility. Some businesses can combat turnover with flexible work arrangements. However, not all businesses are suited for these arrangements. Keep reading to find out the flexible work schedules pros and cons, and to learn if any of the types of arrangements will work at your business.

What are flexible work arrangements?

Flexible work arrangements (sometimes called flexible work schedules) allow employees to adjust their work times or location. These arrangements let employees create their work schedule around their life. Employees are still expected to work a certain amount of time and complete all their tasks.

Flexible work schedules have gotten more popular as technology improves. Employees can connect with you even if you aren’t at the business simultaneously or if the employee works remotely.

Types of flexible work arrangements

There are many types of flexible work schedules. The best option depends on your business and employees’ desires. According to Susan Heathfield, a human resources expert:

The key goal when employers offer flex schedules is to attract and retain superior employees. So the employer’s advantage is to offer a variety of flexible options that meet the needs of the employees and their lifestyle choices and needs. If employees are happy, employers benefit.”

Here are some of the flexible working options you can use at your business.


Telecommuting allows employees to work from anywhere. By using a computer and telecommunications technology, such as video conferencing tools, employees can easily connect with you and their coworkers. Employees can work from home or while traveling.

Alternating locations

Employees who work at your business might be able to work from other locations as well. You can let your employee alternate where they work from. For example, an employee might work at your business four days per week and then work from home on the fifth day.


Flextime lets employees choose their start and end times, while working the same number of hours each day. Employees can start and end work at the same time every day or adjust their schedule based on their life events. Instead of working a typical 9-to-5 schedule, an employee might go to work at 7:30 a.m. and leave at 3:30 p.m.

Your small business attendance policy can require your employees to be at work during a core set of hours. For example, you might say all employee must be at work between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. By doing this, all the employees are at work at the same time for a few hours. Requiring core hours might increase collaboration and meeting times.

Mealtime flex

Mealtime flex allows employees to take their lunch break whenever is most beneficial for them. Employees can move their break to attend appointments without needing to use time off. Some employees might also want to use a shorter break and leave work early.

Compressed workweek

A compressed workweek allows employees to work 40 hours in less than five days. An employee might work four 10-hour days and take the fifth day off. Employees might also compress their time to have a three-day weekend every other week. To do this, employees work 80 hours over nine days, and then take the 10th day off. A compressed workweek might cause employees to work overtime because some state laws require overtime wages after an employee works a certain number of hours per day.

Part-time work

Part-time jobs allow employees to earn income while still having a lot of time outside of work. Employees might work a consistent or a fluctuating set of hours.


Job-sharing is when two employees share and complete the tasks of one full-time job. The employees both work part time. They work together to divide the tasks. Job sharing allows employees to do a job that normally wouldn’t be full time.

Flexible work arrangements and the FLSA

Flexible work schedules are agreements between you and your employees. You will likely include your policies in your employee handbook. Even though you can create your own policy, you must still follow small business employment laws.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets rules on minimum wage, overtime, recordkeeping, and child labor. The FLSA does not address flexible work arrangements. However, your flexible work policy must still follow the FLSA. For example, you must still track the hours of nonexempt employees and pay overtime wages if they work overtime hours.

Benefits and disadvantages of flexible work schedules

Flexible work arrangements come with many benefits for both employees and employers. But, implementing an arrangement can have disadvantages as well. Make sure you understand both the pros and cons before you create a policy for your business.

Flexible work arrangements benefits

There are many benefits of flexible working for employees. When employees can adjust their work schedule, they can have more time to meet personal obligations. Employees don’t have to miss work to spend time with their children, be home for repairs, or pursue personal interests.

For some employees, changing their work schedule will reduce their commute time. Employees can work remotely part of the time. Or, employees can change their start and end times to avoid rush hours.

Employees can work at their most productive times with a flexible schedule. Some employees might work better in the early morning, while others might prefer to do more work in the evening.

Flexible work arrangements don’t only benefit employees. There are benefits of flexible working for employers, too.

When employees are happier with their work-life balance, overall employee morale will likely increase.

Employees with flexible schedules are less likely to miss work, reducing absenteeism in the workplace. Employees are also more likely to stay at your business when they have flexibility, improving retention.

When you’re ready to hire more employees, you can advertise the flexible work arrangement as a perk. Flexible work schedules can help you attract more candidates.

Flexible work arrangements disadvantages

Despite all the benefits, flexible work schedules do have downfalls.

Flexible work arrangements might not be a good fit for some businesses and industries. If you have a retail business or restaurant, you need to have employees at work when customers are there.

Depending on your flexible work schedule policy, it might be difficult to get your employees together at the same time. Meetings and collaboration might take a hit.

Flexible work arrangements can also make attendance management difficult. You can’t closely monitor exactly when employees are working, especially if they are remote. You need to trust employees. Have employees track their time and review their timecards to make sure they work all their required hours.

With Patriot Software’s online time and attendance system for small businesses, employees can track their own time. This add-on to our online payroll software lets employees clock their time from anywhere with an internet connection, 24/7. Employee time cards feed into the payroll software, making payroll fast and simple for you. Try the time & attendance and payroll softwares for free!

This article is updated from its original publication date of 12/28/2011.

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