With the increased use of technology in business today, many companies have implemented flexible working hours. A flexible work arrangement can be just the thing to retain an employee for an extended period above the norm.
While flexible working hours may be relished by an employee, it could also provide opportunities for an employee to not be as productive as when working normal hours.
Why Are Flexible Working Hours Offered?
It’s always been the case that some people perceive that they work better in the morning or late at night. We call it being a morning person or a night owl.
I’ve thought of myself as both at certain times throughout my career. I’ve learned that you can change which bucket you fall into by changing certain practices in your life. The pros and cons of being a morning person or a night owl are not really the point of this article. We’ll approach that argument at a later date.
The point is that people believe they are one or the other.
When you do believe you work best?
If you claim to be a morning person, you would rather wake early, get to work before others and then leave earlier than most. Night owls would like to sleep in, get to work late but then stay later than others. Some would rather even leave at a normal time and then stay up late working at home.
This is the reason companies have engineered flexible working hours into their policies. People have different times of day (or night) at which they work best.
Society has always had these two choices. The baby boomers and the Gen Xers experienced the same desires as the Millennials. However, the Millennials collectively have made it a point to not put up with the old business norm of working 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Instead, they have pushed businesses to change policies if they still want the benefit of working with the Millennials.
The Dangers of a Flexible Work Arrangement
Employees who push to have a flexible working arrangement only the see the benefits they will enjoy from such an arrangement. Most notable, the benefit will be a greater “balance” between work and life.
However, these same employees may overlook the dangers that may occur in their careers that may stem from working in a flexible hours arrangement.
What does it take for you to be productive? Do you need assistance from other personnel, especially someone more experienced than you? If so, you may not be able to get the assistance you need unless that other person works the same schedule as you.
Also, if you work different hours than your boss, you may get overlooked for promotions. Why? Does “out of sight, out of mind” ring a bell?
Productivity, though, trumps almost everything in a flexible hours arrangement. If you can be as productive as you would be working a normal schedule, you’ll be just fine. The problem, however, is demonstrating that productivity to you boss. How will you do that?
Tips for Excelling in a Flexible Hours Arrangement
Now for the good news: You can effectively work in a flexible hours arrangement and excel just like you can in a normal arrangement.
It will take ext ran effort on your part to excel though. If you aren’t in front of those who you work for, you will get overlooked. Put the following tips into practice and watch your career soar:
1. Communicate more
Flexible working hours will lead to less face-to-face or one-on-one conversations. It won’t be as frequent because you are working different hours than those of your team or your boss.
Begin a practice of giving daily updates until you are told otherwise. Bosses want to know their direct reports are working but good bosses don’t want to have to micromanage. If you provide daily email updates regarding your projects, your boss will be happy.
2. Be more productive
Company leaders who start a flexible hours arrangement expect productivity to increase. If it doesn’t, there isn’t a point in having the arrangement. You need to be more productive.
If you are working in your peak hours as you claim to be, this should be an easy target to hit.
3. Get expectations in writing
It’s harder to monitor productivity when people aren’t working in the same place at the same time. To help that, get your boss to put expectations in writing. When does she expect for you to wrap-up a project? How many projects are you expected to work on at once?
Get it all in writing, and, yes, an email is fine.
4. Boast about your productivity
I learned a long time ago that I needed to boast of my accomplishments in order for those accomplishments to be recognized.
Boasting is usually seen as a negative, ego-centric trait. However, there is a right way to do it.
When giving your daily updates to your boss, describe to her about how well you are doing. Give daily, weekly and monthly updates.
When you continually get projects done before they are expected to (or under budget, etc.), tell your boss about it. Remind her of the timeline she had given you for it so she can see how well you are doing.
5. Attend all meetings
Believe me, I’m a proponent for fewer meetings. The information disseminated during most meetings could have been just as easily written in a one page email and sent to everyone.
Regardless of your thoughts on the useful of your company’s meetings, however, you need to attend. Your attendance will show you are a team-player and that the work is more important than your flexible hours schedule.
6. Use the phone
Old-school employers are more prone to calling someone directly rather than sending an email. Give your boss what she wants – call her.
If you know she is available, call instead of emailing. It will help her think better of you and create a closer connection to you.
Better yet, if you are in the office at the same time as your boss, walk to her office and talk with her face-to-face.
7. Get and stay connected with your co-workers
Working remotely or on your own flexible schedule is great but people stay at jobs longer due to the connections they have with fellow employees and bosses.
Make friends at work. If possible, be friends with them outside of work. You’re going to spend a lot of time with those people so you might as well enjoy that time by spending it with friends.
8. Don’t ever, ever lie about anything
At some point, something will happen that will impair your productivity. It’s inevitable.
Whatever you do, don’t lie about it. Be upfront.
Most employers understand that life happens. Your daughter might get sick and you have to take care of her instead of working. Maybe your flexible hours arrangement will need to be adjusted for a brief time.
Just tell your boss and work it out up front.
If you don’t, your boss will figure out you’re lying.
They Want You to Succeed
Remember that the company’s leadership implemented flexible working hours so the company can be more profitable. When you help that goal become a reality, you’ll prove their decision was a good one.
Leadership wants you to succeed. You want the company to succeed. It’s a win-win situation if both parties take things seriously.
Question for you: What other practices have you used to make a flexible work arrangement successful?