Small Business

Flexible Work Hours in a Small Business

Updated on December 02, 2019


Offering flexible work hours to your small business employees may serve as a cost-effective way to help recruit and retain the best workers. As a popular option to include in a benefits package, flexible work hours and alternative schedules can be agreed upon between an employer and their work staff to better accommodate the needs of employees.

When considering benefits like group health insurance, you may want to weigh the pros and cons of flexible work hours for your employees, especially since there may be little to no cost for your small business to implement this popular benefit.

Continue reading to learn about the advantages and disadvantages of flexible work hours in a small business.

What are flexible work hours?

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, flexible work hours serve as an alternative to a traditional work week schedule, letting employees change the times they arrive at or depart from work as a matter of agreement between them and their employer.

Examples of arrangements for flexible work hours may include:

  • Adjusted work arrival or departure times – Employees can arrive early and leave early, or arrive late and stay later, depending on their family schedules or if they prefer mornings or evenings.
  • Four-day work weeks – Employees could work four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days, completing the same amount of work (40 hours) across fewer days.
  • Working from home – Employees may work from home on certain predetermined days of the week. Workers might decide to do this on Fridays, or to avoid challenging commutes.

Understandably, such arrangements are highly desirable to employees with families, children, and dependents. According to a survey by FlexJobs, working parents who are considering a job opportunity are likely to prioritize work flexibility and work-life balance over other main factors, even above salary and health insurance benefits.

Source: FlexJobs survey

What are the pros of flexible work hours?

The primary advantages of a flexible work schedule may include:

  • Cost-effective – Small business employers can often provide the benefit of flexible work hours for little to no additional cost. By setting agreed-upon guidelines, employees can end up working the same amount of hours while potentially being more productive and engaged.
  • Retention – By allowing more flexible work schedules, employers may be better able to keep their best-performing employees. Workers often appreciate how telecommuting can allow them to avoid traffic and fulfill personal obligations such as medical appointments and family matters.
  • Recruitment – A company might attract more high-quality talent by offering the popular benefit of a flexible work schedule. Not only can this perk be a significant differentiator, it can also be a sign of a positive company culture to potential hires and future recruits.

Overall, a small business might consider offering flexible work hours in order to better accommodate the needs and preferences of its workers.

What are the cons of flexible work hours?

Disadvantages of a flexible work schedule may include:

  • Management challenges – It may be difficult to implement a flexible work policy unless an agreement been established between the employer and employees. To reduce challenges, you can set out clear expectations, such as deciding key hours during the day when off-site employees must be working and available to make decisions with their project teams.
  • Job type limitations – Flexible work hours might not make as much sense as an employee benefit for certain types of jobs. For instance, occupations that require being present for shifts or on-call daily for specific hours, such as customer service, sales, retail, manufacturing, or medical roles, may not have a flexible work schedule readily available.

Ultimately, if employees are still completing their work on-time and as scheduled, and do not necessarily need to be in the office to complete particular tasks or projects, offering flexible work hours in an employee benefits package may be a worthwhile option to consider.

Flexible hours in perspective

Besides offering group health insurance, flexible work hours can be another great way to help recruit and retain quality employees for your small business for minimal additional cost. With clearly communicated guidelines in place, your employees will likely appreciate having greater flexibility to complete their work while also having greater respect for their employer.

This article is for general information and may not be updated after publication. Consult your own tax, accounting, or legal advisor instead of relying on this article as tax, accounting, or legal advice.

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