In this post, we outline the benefits of introducing more flexible work arrangements and help you choose an option that works for both your employees and your business.

The era of the 9-to-5 workday is over.
More businesses are adapting their hours to meet client needs and many successful agencies have employees working across different time zones.
People want the flexibility to cultivate their many passions (and go to the dentist when they need to), which is hard when they’re committed to a desk from 9am to 5pm every day. A flextime policy allows them to have time for what’s important outside of work—and work when it’s convenient for them.
It doesn’t just benefit your employees, there are also many benefits for your agency as well. 
While it can be hard to take the leap of faith required to let your employees design a more flexible schedule, agencies have an advantage. Most agencies track time closely, which means you already know how your team is spending their time.

It doesn’t matter whether they complete that ad campaign at noon or after yoga at nine as long as deadlines are met.

The Benefits of Flexible Work

Research from the Cranfield School of Management suggests that when you give your team members flexibility, they’re appreciative and reward you by working harder.
It’s the norm of reciprocity: you give a little something extra to them, and they give a little something extra to your agency.
Claire Kelliher, one of the professors on the study, explains, “Flexible workers ‘repay’ the choice opened up to them, by means of extending a greater effort.”
Your employees’ work won’t slip with a flexible work arrangement—it will improve. 
For now, we’ll define “flexible work arrangement” pretty broadly as anything that’s less rigid than a standard 9-to-5 workday, and dig into the details of what that can entail later.

1. Boosts employee retention

Flexibility is a huge factor in whether employees will stay with your agency.
Studies show that a flextime policy makes your team more loyal and less likely to quit their job. One study found that 80% of employees said that their ability to manage work-life balance affected their decision about whether they wanted to stay with their company.
In an industry where annual turnover is upwards of 30% you need to do everything you can to make sure your top talent sticks around—and doesn’t jump at the chance for a bigger paycheck.
In the case of BDO, a global accounting firm, over 90% of employees viewed flexible time as a crucial retention driver.
Guaranteeing your employees the flexibility they crave is a great way to keep them happy and prevent them from jumping ship. 

2. Fosters high-intensity productivity

Studies show that employees with a flexible schedule are more productive than those who don’t have access to one. Employees who utilize flextime were found to have increased job satisfaction, take less sick time, put in more hours and perform better in their job roles.
Flextime policies make your team members more productive because they allow employees to shape their schedule around how they work best.
Whether they’re morning people or night owls, or whether they work best in long stretches or short bursts, they can choose the schedule that’s most productive for them.
For your agency, this means that you won’t ever have employees working at a time when they wouldn’t have been productive anyway. 

3. Attracts top talent

A flextime policy is an essential tool to attract and hire top talent.
When you require a rigid 9-to-5, there are specific groups you run the risk of missing out on:

  • People in other time zones. We’ve written in the past about how to build a successful remote team, but if you require rigid work hours for your remote workers, no one will want to join your team. Someone in the States shouldn’t be required to work the same hours as someone in Ireland, and you miss out on the possibility of multi-national, diverse thinking.
  • Parents. Studies indicate that employee stress from concerns about after-school care for their children costs businesses between $496 to $1,984 per employee per year. Just knowing that they wouldn’t be able to duck out for an hour to take their child to the dentist can also deter them from joining your team. 
  • Millennials/people with side jobs. Helping your employees cultivate hobbies and side gigs often makes them even better at their day job. Don’t miss out on this ambitious talent pool by imposing rigid working hours.

You could be missing out on the very best talent because of the arbitrary limitations of a typical workday. To make sure you don’t close any doors, advertise your flextime policy on your job postings

4. Cuts down on unnecessary costs

Implementing flextime can help cut down on unnecessary cost overruns that crop up with owning a business.

  • Cut absenteeism costs. Unscheduled absences cost employers an average of $1,800 per employee per year. A flextime policy reduces stress (which causes many unscheduled absences) and can allow your employees to work from home when they’re sick or dealing with personal issues.
  • Cut costs from tardiness. Employees who run 10 minutes late add up. One example shows that if a company with 150 employees has 15 of them run 10 minutes late consistently, they cost their company $14,000 per year. Your employees won’t cost you money by running late if work starts when they arrive with a tracked flextime policy.
  • Cut office space costs. One accounting firm saved over $1 million annually after deciding to let employees work from home occasionally. After making the change, they only needed around 188 square feet per person, while they previously needed 237 square feet. Even if everyone is still required to come into the office sometimes, a flextime policy can cut down on the amount of meeting space needed at any given time.

3 Ways to Introduce Flextime to Your Agency

You don’t have to be a rigid 9-to-5 agency or completely forego a physical office location to build your own flextime policy. There are spaces in between those options that allow you to reap the benefits of a flexible schedule regardless of what your day-to-day work requires.
Here are the three main options for flexible work arrangements, and some criteria to help you decide which one is right for you.

  1. Informal flexibility. You don’t need a formal HR policy to let people step out when they have a doctor’s appointment or let a parent come in early and leave early to pick up their child from school. Informal flexibility is a good choice when you have a lot of meetings with clients that you can’t reschedule, but still require everyone to be present most of the time.
  2. Core hours. For this option, your company has certain hours everyone’s required to be at work—like 10am to 3pm, for example—and then the rest of the time, it’s up to the individual. If your company requires a lot of internal, face-to-face collaboration, this allows you to schedule meetings at a time when you know everyone will be available. 
  3. Entirely flexible. In this option, your team builds their own hours, and they can also work from home. This option is best when most of your communication (internally and externally) is done asynchronously. But just because their schedules might change each week doesn’t mean you can’t keep track of when they’ll be working. Using a tool like Harvest Forecast you can check in on their work week plan in case you need to sync up and meet face to face.

Implement a policy based on what works best for your team. If you know what level of flexibility your team members need to do their work, you’ll know which policy is right for your agency.
The chart below highlights the best use cases for each form of flexible work and matches them to different agency circumstances.

Once you decide which form of flextime is right for your team, you can implement it on a trial basis to see if it works in practice and determine what adjustments you need to make. For example, you might not be tracking employee time right now, but starting a small experiment with a few members of your team might help you to see its value.
It’s also important to train team leads to manage flexible workers as well. Not everyone works well when they use flextime, and managers have to encourage employees to work how they work best—even if that means encouraging employees to forgo the flextime option.
While not every flextime option is for everyone, experimenting with different methods allows you to find one that works best for your agency.

Empower Your Team to Work Effectively

The future of work is flexible. Your willingness to adapt to changing consumer demands and the daily needs of your employees will put you ahead of other agencies who are still anchoring their schedules in a traditional workday.
Flexible hours give your employees the chance to work when they’re most alert and focused. And switching over to flextime can happen gradually, so your entire team can adjust and experience the advantages as they adapt.
When you put all of these benefits together you begin to see that flextime might be one of the best shortcuts to a more productive team and building a more positive work environment for your agency going forward.