Telecommuting and flexible work schedules are more common than ever before, with more than a third of American workers saying they telecommute at least some of the time and more than 80% saying they would like to do so.
It’s clear that employees—especially the newest generation of the workforce—crave a better work-life balance. Many companies are stepping up to meet that need by offering flexible work schedules (and in some cases, non-existent ones!).
Would a non-traditional workday work for your team and make your company more profitable? We talked with entrepreneurs who’ve jumped ship from the 9-to-5 to see why they did it—and a few considerations you need to make before doing so yourself.
It can breed happier employees
“Our philosophy is that people are happiest and therefore most productive when they have the freedom to do the things meaningful to them,” said Stephanie Sprangers, CEO and Co-founder of Glamhive, a fashion rewards program.
Sprangers says she has team members who leave in the middle of the day to pick up kids from school, and some of her developers opt to spend their days in the gym and stay up coding well after midnight.
It’s true that happier employees are more profitable; research shows employees who feel content at work produce 12% more output than those who are dissatisfied.
“Everyone is more engaged with Glamhive because of our flexible schedule policy,” she says.
It helps employees get “life stuff” done
Two years ago he implemented a non-conventional schedule where employees only show up to the office on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Wednesdays and Fridays they work from home during the hours they see fit.
“The work from home days are incredible because they give everyone a chance to catch up on their individual work or do chores around the house.”
Meaning those tedious tasks that loom overhead—cleaning the garage, meeting the cable guy—now have a designated time for getting done. It’s good for business, Fiedler says.
“I'm a firm believer that if you're stable in the other parts of your life, your work life (and output) will be much stronger as well.”
It keeps you active
Outdoor apparel retailer Patagonia famously encourages employees to go surfing (or do whatever else they like to do) to break up the workday. It seems to be working for them; the company reportedly does upwards of $500 million a year in revenue.
Smaller businesses like New York based women’s clothing retailer Studio 15 are following suit. CEO Jia Wertz explains that employees are allowed to set their own hours, provided they meet team-wide deadlines and set aside times for pre-scheduled meetings.
The great thing is that they can do anything they wish with their time,” Wertz says. “Our marketing director in California walks her dog and goes to the gym. Others do yoga and take workout classes.”
It helps attract top talent
“In our industry, demand for talent is very high,” says Jared Shaner, Vice President of e-commerce solution provider Trellis.
Shaner says flex time is a major selling point when his startup is competing with major corporations to win the best workers in the tech business. Empowered employees have been proven to be more productive and have higher morale than those who feel micromanaged.
“In order to retain our industry leading development team, we need to make sure they feel empowered and trusted,” Shaner says. “No one with a respected background wants to be treated like a child.”
It’s the way of the future
Jessica Valenzuela and her team at San Francisco startup GoGoGuest work remotely, so everyone sets his or her own hours. She says it’s evidence of a shift in the way modern companies do business.
“Work anywhere is the future,” says Valenzuela, who is GoGoGuest’s CEO. “I can't imagine myself in a 9-to-5 job with four walls, a floor and very monitored breaks.”
Valenzuela and her team use tech tools accordingly to support their flexible working arrangement.
“We communicate about urgent items and questions that come up via Slack or iMessage,” she says. “We use Trello, Google Drive and spreadsheets to deliver work products.”
It’s not for everyone
Despite the many benefits of offering flexible hours, it’s not ideal for every company and team. In some cases, the lack of an eight-hour workday structure may cause employees to feel more tethered to their jobs, checking their devices all night long and on weekends.
And even in the age of the smartphone, connecting can be tricky.
“The only issue we run into is communication,” says SMC founder Russab Ali, founder of SMC Digital Marketing.
SMC has a “zero day workweek” approach, where time isn’t counted and employees are simply required to finish their assigned tasks by deadline.
“Sometimes you need to talk to someone who isn't at work because they already left,” Russab says. “Fortunately, most of our employees are friends so there was a natural solution in using personal phones and texting.”
Would you ever implement a flexible work schedule for you team? Do you already use one? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments section below.