Some jobs come with a flexible schedule, but some people are not fit to handle a flexible schedule. I think many people assume a work at home position or a flexible schedule means sleeping in and working in your pajamas. The reality is that those that take a lazy approach to a flexible schedule will most likely fail at their job. We offer somewhat of a flexible schedule to our employees and in return we expect them to work extremely hard. Here are a few things to consider when asking yourself if you are disciplined enough for a flexible schedule.
Easy To Blow Things Off
When you offer and run a flexible schedule in your small business it is easy to blow things off. Sure it is nice to have the flexibility to sneak away for an hour to ski or hit the gym, but you need make that time up. It can be tough to work the extra hours needed when you instill some flexibility into your schedule. It is the important tasks that usually get pushed to the back burner as well. Big picture tasks like creating your forecast and budget, working on your exit plan, and growth oriented tasks like networking and marketing often get neglected when your schedule is flexible. Instead time is spent on day to day operations and you never get the really important business tasks done. Additionally things come up in your life like family emergencies and obligations that often interfere with work.
Takeaway: It is important to stay focused and work hard on big picture tasks when your schedule is flexible. Don't let the flexibility and day to day tasks keep you from running a successful business.
24/7 Work Mentality
The combination of a flexible schedule and the advances in technology have imposed a 24/7 work mentality on much of the workforce. One example of this is the general adoption of smart phones in the workforce. The access to email, phones and chat is almost non-stop. I often find that the first thing I do when I get up and last thing I do when I go to bed is to scan my email. While you may feel like an all-star to your clients answering an email on Sunday night at 8 pm you are also creating an expectation that you may not be able to maintain in the long-run. If you service your clients and employees 24/7 then you are setting the expectations for the future. It is important to set boundaries in your business when it comes to servicing your clients.
Takeaway: Although technology has allowed for 24/7 work mentality it is important to set boundaries or you will find yourself doing nothing but working.
Weak Are Exposed
Many employers are hesitant to give their employees flexibility in their schedule or the ability to work from home. Many owners believe if they give their employees an inch they will take a mile. My experience has been that empowering employees with flexibility in their schedule results in happier and more productive employees. The other thing is that those employees that are not disciplined enough for a flexible schedule will naturally be exposed. It will become apparent if they are not meeting deadlines and deliverables. Additionally giving an employee power over their schedule is not something that should be done from the beginning, it is something they should earn over time with performance. Once I have an employee up to full-time status with their client workload I have a meeting with them. I then clearly communicate what their workload and deadlines are. The rules are simple; deliver to the client what they want and when they want it by. If my phone doesn't ring with a client complaint then it does not matter how or when the work gets done. This approach keeps both the client and employee happy and creates a great work environment. It is important to follow up regularly with clients to make sure that everything is going well. Just because they are not reporting any issues does not mean that problems don't exist.
Takeaway: Those employees that can't handle a flexible schedule will naturally be exposed. Also, it is important to follow up with clients on the service they are receiving.
A flexible schedule can be a great thing for both the employee and employer. Some employees are not made to handle a flexible schedule and need a set structure to their job. Offering a flexible schedule to the right employees can be a great benefit that increases productivity and does not cost your business extra money.
Does your business offer a flexible schedule?
What positives and negatives have you discovered?