I read a fantastic article on Upworthy the other day on the benefits of bucking the 9-to-5 trend. It makes a lot of sense to think about why companies should more readily offer people flexible work schedules. Especially now more than ever in a digital age with tremendous opportunities to work virtually, I think it’s a shame that so much of Corporate America is handcuffed to a 9-to-5.
Personally, I see massive benefits in allowing employees to set their own time and place for work. Just a few to spark some thought:
- TRAFFIC: yes, being an Atlantan, this one is going to be first on my list. I lose at least one hour a day to commuting (and, many times, 2+ hours) and I think about how bitter I get either when I arrive at the office or home for the night after an unusually long commute… It’s really hard to get back on point after you sit in a car for 90 minutes.
- WORK LIFE BALANCE: people need time to do things that make them happy. For me, going to the gym is really important. Fortunately, I work at a site where I can escape to the gym a couple days over lunch. I can’t tell you what that does for my own energy and mood when I get back to the office. It is a perfect way to split the day up and I don’t walk around all afternoon like a zombie.
- PRODUCTIVITY: some people are simply more productive in comfortable environments. Office life can be daunting. Some are night owls; some early risers. Why confine everyone to a schedule that may not fit their biological body preferences?
- FINANCIAL PLANNING: adjusting work schedules allows people to take better control of their personal finances. Whether it’s saved fuel costs from not sitting in traffic (see #1) or the ability to do more home cooking rather than dining out, there are great benefits financially to having more flexible work schedules. Also – mothers and fathers that could potentially split days home to save on child care costs would be an incredible way to allow young couples to be happier, healthier, and wealthier (and, as the graphic shows, happy employees are key)
The only argument I see against it is two-fold: either 1) people are lazy and unproductive when they aren’t surrounded by others or in a controlled environment, and 2) collaboration takes a massive hit when you aren’t able to meet face to face with people. First off, some of the least productive people I know are the ones that live at the office and put in hours much longer than 9-to-5 (ever had that person who sends you an email “needing” something by the end of the day at 4 PM? Why did they wait so long?). Second, while I do agree that face-to-face collaboration is hard to beat – there are ways to ensure there is still ample amount of in-person collaboration and meeting time. It just has to be carefully constructed within a company’s workplace bylaws. Telecommuting has gotten ridiculously simple and the ability to connect virtually is easier now more than ever.
I know I may have oversimplified a lot of the content above, but it’s silly to me that more companies wouldn’t explore this. If your company claims it has “the best people”, why would they not want to commit to making them happy?
Til Next Time,