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The Employer's Viewpoint
Have you received a flexible work schedule proposal from an employee? If it is well-prepared, it addresses business goals and objectives, benefits to the company and the type of support needed. While you might love to please a dedicated employee, you might also have trepidation about entering into an arrangement where you feel a loss of control. The key for success is a written contract that outlines exactly how the arrangement will work.
A variety of options exist to balance the lives of employees. Telecommuting allows an employee to work some part of the day from a location other than the home office. Flextime offers an employee the chance to work in off-hours. Job-sharing enables two part-time employees to coordinate the responsibilities of a full-time job. An analysis of these arrangements is performed in the companion article, Different Types of Flexible Work Schedules: A Primer. Suggestions for identifying qualified employees are also addressed.
Once you have reached a decision to extend a flexible work schedule, put it in writing. Three key areas to address are discussed below. Note that existing policies for performance goals, review processes and compensation should also be in place and complement the proposal.
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Clearly document expectations regarding work schedule:
- Which days will the employee work?
- What hours will the employee work?
- When is the employee required to be at the office?
- How will time-keeping be recorded? A free printable employee attendance form is located in the Bright Hub Media Gallery.
- Does the employee need to check-in with anyone during the day?
- Are there requirements related to work breaks and lunch that should be reiterated?
- Will the employee need to be available in off-hours for emergency calls?
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It may seem silly...until there is a problem. Expectations regarding the work environment should be addressed in a flexible work schedule proposal that involves telecommuting. For example:
- Is a dedicated work space required? Or, can the employee work at the dining table?
- Can the employee work from alternative locations, like a vacation home?
- Are specific security measures required, such as a locking filing cabinet or software security?
- Are child care arrangements required if a child is at home?
- Who will pay for various expenses, such as phone and internet charges?
- How will relocation expenses be handled if the employee moves?
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Review of the Arrangement
Even though the arrangement may appear to be a long-term commitment, it is important to establish that the schedule may be revoked when it is no longer beneficial. Unfortunately, circumstances do change. With proper notice, this clause is appropriate. Since this fact can be very disconcerting to an employee, the parameters used to make the decision should be clear. Outline performance expectations and consider tying the results to a review. Another consideration is whether inspections of the premises will be performed in a telecommute arrangement.
Start out slowly and proceed with caution. Establish a temporary period to evaluate the arrangement before it is finalized. If the flexible work schedule is beneficial to both parties, extend the arrangement for a longer period of time, such as for the year. Periodic reviews should continue to occur each year thereafter. Hopefully, with a strong foundation in place, employer and employee will reap the many benefits of a flexible work schedule for a very long time!
Resources: Gil Gordon Associates: http://gilgordon.com/telecommuting/index.htm
Image Credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/479608