Alternative work schedules are arrangements that allow employees to vary their hours, work from home more, and generally have more flexibility, but they do not decrease the total number of hours an employee is required to work.  These types of schedules are becoming increasingly popular over the last several years. 

There are good reasons for the increasing popularity of alternative work schedules.  In many households both adults work full-time.  Parents spend significantly more time shuttling their children from one activity to the next.  We live further away from our schools and work than we used to and spend significantly more time commuting.  We have also become more focused on ourselves – in a good way.  We have realized the need for the occasional long weekend and the benefits of having (and using) a gym membership.  In short, people are busy.  Alternative schedules can lessen the anxiety that often goes hand-in-hand with a demanding lifestyle.  They allow more flexibility and reduce time-consuming stressors such as long commutes and trying to schedule appointments during working hours.  Here are some of the benefits of alternative work schedules:

  • Alternative work schedules can be arranged to extend an office’s service hours
  • Companies that offer the arrangement can attract better and more talented employees willing to work for less pay
  • Alternative work schedules have been shown to increase employee creativity
  • Alternative work schedules decrease the stress of office politics and employee relation issues
  • Employees are less likely to leave companies that offer more flexibility
  • In the long run, flexible policies can lower office costs.  For example, flexible work schedules may enable a company to move into a smaller office.

    The trend is certainly toward allowing employees more freedom to work where and when they please (to an extent), and by-and-in-large, flexible schedules have paid off for employers.  There are some issues that employers should carefully consider before implementing an alternative work policy at their company.

  • Employers must make sure the policy employees are expected to follow is very clear and in writing.
  • Employers may need to develop a policy for more carefully monitoring employee progress than previously necessary to ensure that projects are completed timely and consistently with the employer’s expectations.
  • Employers will need to implement a time-keeping system that allows them to track the total number of hours worked and to assess the benefits due to employees.
  • In the beginning, flexible work schedules could be taxing on employers trying to maintain a company’s organization and productivity.  Alternative work schedules can be started on a trial basis to allow employers to work out any problems that may arise before implementing the policy on a larger scale.
  • Like many changes, most companies will likely experience some growing pains in implementing alternative work schedules, but given the success many employers have experienced, allowing employees’ flexibility is certainly something to consider.  

    Please contact a Gjording Fouser lawyer at 208.336.9777 if you would like any additional information about this topic or any other employment issues facing your company.