Flexible work arrangements

Flexibility can help both your organization and the employee succeed. From the employee's perspective, flexible work may allow more freedom to organize their job to fit other parts of their lives. For a nonprofit organization, flexibility can enable staffing arrangements that match varying workloads and clients' needs.

Key considerations for flexible work arrangements:

  • Developing trust and avoiding micro-managerial tendencies
  • Setting expectations and establishing clear and consistent communication practices between staff with different work schedules
  • Addressing equity and eliminating barriers to flexible work

Flexible hours

The most common flexible hour arrangements are:

  • Flextime: Start and finish times are negotiated with employees. For example, an employee works from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. rather than 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. When employees arrive at different times in the morning, this is called staggered hours.
  • Compressed workweeks: Working a traditional 35–40 hour work-week in less than five days. For example, four 10-hour days.
  • Part-time work: Working hours are changed to part-time, depending on individual circumstances such as health issues or care-giving obligations. The work hours, and associated compensation, are negotiated — these arrangements may be on a temporary or permanent basis.
  • Job sharing: A structured form of part-time work with various models. A 50:50 split is typical but not the only option. Some employers find it best that both workers have at least one day in common so that they can share information and brief each other on current tasks and issues.
  • Time off in-lieu: Paid time off work instead of overtime pay. This might be beneficial to balance longer work days during busy seasons and slower periods. In most Canadian provinces, the overtime rate is 1.5 times the employee’s standard compensation and requires prior written agreement on paid time off in-lieu for overtime. Refer to the employment standards legislation in your province or territory to follow hours of work and overtime guidelines.
  • Personal days: Additional paid time off that doesn’t count as vacation day or sick leave. It's time used for family emergencies, medical appointments, childcare obligations, etc.

Benefits of flexible work hours for employees

  • Avoiding rush-hour commutes
  • Having more control over time off
  • Creating work-life balance advantages such as being able to take a child to school or to the dentist/doctor; starting work later, or leaving early to allow time for health and fitness activities
  • Ability to schedule work during quiet times to accomplish more, or work more easily with clients in different time zones

Benefits of flexible work hours for employers

  • Recruiting and retaining valued staff who have other life commitments or interests
  • Scheduling work across longer portions of the day, better coverage for clients
  • Making more efficient use of facilities, desks, computers, etc.
  • Continuity and staff coverage by one employee while another is away

Important management principles for flexible work hours

Develop clear policies on hours of work

Clear, effective policies help guide your organization in situations such as when everyone worked a special event the night before, a worker claims hundreds of overtime hours for which you have no records, or someone takes a stress leave because they did not take any time off in lieu of all their overtime. It's best practice to require approval before employees incur overtime.

Keep track of hours worked

Be clear with staff about if and how they should track their hours, such as timesheets and/or time-tracking software. Keeping track of hours can help you identify and address burnout on your team before it happens. The data will give you insight into your team’s capacity and can encourage your team to be proactive about preventing burnout.

Flexible work locations

Flexible work locations include working from home, satellite offices, and other approved locations.

Benefits for the employee

  • Decreased time spent commuting to and from work
  • Reduced disruptions that occur in an office environment
  • Increased control over work-life balance, such as being able to change routines

Benefits for the employer

  • Reduction in office space, furniture and/or equipment and potentially some cost savings
  • Reduced costs associated with employee commutes
  • Reduced absenteeism and/or lateness
  • Increased productivity because of fewer distractions or interactions between colleagues.

Important principles for flexible work location arrangements

The goal in designing flexible work location arrangements is to make sure that work gets done in the most effective way, from the most effective location. Here are some ideas to help ensure flexible work location arrangements work:

  • Maintain a high level of contact by encouraging a two-way flow of communication between staff. It’s best to set up an established cadence, for example, on Mondays hold a quick check-in to kick off the week. This is especially important for off-site employees.
  • Use a combination of face-to-face communication, phone, e-mail, and video conferencing.
  • Use face-to-face and video conferencing for key management tasks focused on motivation, team building, performance management, and introducing changes in the work or the relationship with the employee.
  • Use telephone communications and/or video conferencing for planning, reviewing, and strategizing.
  • Use email or messaging apps for quick contact and confirming conversations.
  • Be organized and intentional about when you meet face-to-face (including video chat). Reliance on face-to-face meetings can be a sign of disorganization or poor communication practices, resulting in team members spending too much time in meetings and not enough time on-tasks.
  • Ensure off-site workers get access to training and promotion opportunities. Career development is important for all employees — no matter where they work.
  • Ensure all employees’ performance and progress are planned and measured — regardless of their work location. See our performance management section for more information.
  • Promote team-building between on-site and off-site employees by inviting employees who work at home to come in for a special lunch, training, or other activity.
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