If you manage or own a small business you’ve more than likely asked yourself this question—how flexible should our schedule be? The workplace is changing. There’s flex time, flexible locations, and ROWE (Results only work Environment.) What should you embrace? How will it affect production? What do employees expect? Don’t sweat it. You’re probably already more flexible than you think.

How Flexible are you?

If a valuable employee came to you needing to adjust his or her hours to fit child care or to care for an elderly parent would you accommodate them? Do any employees work outside of the office, from home, or while traveling? Do you allow employees to swap shifts and fill in for each other? If so, you’ve created a flexible work environment.

Why should you be Flexible?

A flexible work environment that focuses on work-life balance will attract and retain valuable team members and foster a positive work culture. Working in an employee friendly upbeat culture is always more productive than the opposite. Through flexibility, employee recognition, fair pay, and benefits–an atmosphere can be created that enhances production rather than the opposite where employees may sabotage work.

How can you be flexible?

As we mentioned, you can offer flex hours to fit the needs of employees within the framework of the organization’s requirements, other examples include:

Compressed work weeks – Such as, four 10 hours days producing a four days on and three days off work schedule.

Core Hours – For example, a daily onsite schedule of 10 am to 3 pm with the expectation of working a total of eight hours per day either off-site or before or after the core hours.

Location flexibility – For example, I work from home every Tuesday. It’s more productive to write in the quiet of my home office than the bustling work office.

Shift flexibility – Allow employees to work the shifts most suited to their lifestyle and to swap shifts as long as shifts are covered.

Staggered shifts – Are excellent for production and fitting the needs of team members. Staggering lunch and breaks can be very productive. Or here’s another example, employee A is an early riser and would prefer to begin work early while employee B sees his children to the bus every day. In this scenario, staggering hours could be a win-win.

Job Sharing – Is when two or more employee share the same job title and responsibilities. Job sharing has been used extensively in medical facilities where doctors and nurses share the care of patients.

Part Time – Part time can be used for transitioning employees such as students learning the industry, new parents seeking time with children, or near retirement employees who want to stay involved on a limited basis.

What’s best for you?

Only you and your team can answer that, but let me leave you with this. The world is changing, and our workforce is changing with it. There’s a new focus on understanding what’s important. Work is one of those important factors in all of our lives—it’s just not the only one. Finding the flexible fit for your team can improve performance, increase production, and make for a positive workplace. How flexible are you?

If you’d like to learn more here’s an excellent piece on flexible scheduling from the HR Council