What Is Flex Time? | The Complete Guide For Managers

alarm clock on a desk

As businesses continue to adapt and change in the 21st century, many managers are looking for an alternative schedule to help keep their team cohesive like it was a few short years ago. Flex time may be the answer.

In this article, we discuss the benefits and drawbacks of flex time to help you decide if it’s the right choice for your team and your business.

Table Of Contents

What Is Flex Time?

flex time employees

As the name suggests, flex time is an alternative work schedule in which employees can choose when to start and finish their workday as long as they satisfy certain conditions.

In most cases, team members are still required to work their regular number of hours each day or each week, but, within that framework, they’re allowed to choose when they clock in and when they clock out — within agreed-upon limits.

Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean that employees can just come and go as they please. As we mentioned, they have to satisfy certain conditions and work within agreed-upon limits.

What does that look like and how does a flex time schedule work? Read on to find out.

Flex Time Format

clocks with times from 4 different countries

Most flex time schedules include three unique variables that help control when your team works.

Those variables are:

  • Core time
  • Start limit
  • Finish limit

Core time is a set of hours when all employees must be present (either in-person or online).

Core time makes it possible to conduct meetings, collaborate, and perform other team activities with employees who work different flex time hours.

Start limit is a restriction that tells employees the earliest they can report to work.

You can set this limit at any time you choose, but it should always take into account your core time and not allow team members to leave before those core time limits are done.

Finish limit is a restriction that tells employees the latest they can remain at work.

Again, you can set this limit at any time you choose, but it should always take into account your core time and not allow team members to arrive after the core time limits start.

Sample Flex Time Schedule

To help you understand how all three of these variables work together to give your team options, we’ve put together a sample flex time schedule for eight employees.

Core time: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Start limit: No earlier than 5 a.m.
Finish limit: No later than 9 p.m.

Based on this criteria, employees choose to work the following schedule that includes a one-hour lunch break:

Frasier: 5 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Niles: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Daphne: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Martin: 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Roz: 9:45 a.m. to 6:45 p.m.
Bulldog: 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Eddie: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Maris: 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

All eight employees start and end their workday at different times — according to what works best for them — but they’re all present during the core time hours between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

It’s during this four-hour time block that normal group activities can occur, including:

While it may not seem overly complicated at first, keep in mind that most flex time schedules allow for different start and end times each day of the week.

That means that Daphne could work 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday.

This makes it easy for each employee to customize a work schedule to fit their busy life while still giving your business, and their team, the time it deserves.

Flex Time Benefits

flex time employees

1) Improves Employee Recruiting And Retention

Not every business offers flex time, so you can use it as a recruiting tool — a perk of sorts — to attract top talent who want more control over their schedule and an alternative to the standard 9-to-5 workday.

That said, don’t assume that potential employees will understand the options that flex time offers. Be sure to explain the ins and outs of the system so that they see the flexibility as the benefit that it is.

In some cases, a business might choose to offer flex time as a reward to certain employees as a way to retain these high-performing individuals.

2) Boosts Motivation And Morale

Motivation and morale are tricky variables to control. Offering flex time is a relatively easy way to boost both feelings at the same time.

Switching from a traditional 9-to-5 schedule to a flex time schedule — whether it’s for the entire team or just one individual — often results in a happier, healthier, more balanced group.

If you don’t want to implement a completely new schedule, consider offering an alternative as an incentive for good behavior or a job well done.

3) Reduces Tardiness And Absenteeism

Tardiness and absenteeism may not seem like serious problems at first, but, if left unchecked, they can take root, become habit, and affect the engagement of your team and even the successful operation of your business.

Flex time gives your employees plenty of room to deal with unexpected life events and emergencies without taking away from the hours they spend at work.

When they have the option to come in early or stay late instead of just missing work, your business’s attendance numbers will improve dramatically.

4) Promotes Collaboration And Teamwork

While team members may collaborate and work together sporadically throughout the day under a normal 9-to-5 schedule, the core time restrictions of a flex schedule can actually improve the amount of time your employees spend in group work.

When team members know that everyone is on a different schedule but will be present between certain hours, they’ll be more likely to seek each other out during that time to brainstorm, talk, and discuss the project at hand.

Flex Time Drawbacks

area for employees to hang out

1) Can Be Difficult To Track

Because it can change from day to day (if you set it up that way), flex time can be extremely difficult to track without a digital solution.

Modern workforce management apps — like Inch — transform any smartphone, mobile device, laptop, or computer into a time tracking tool that your team can access anytime, anywhere.

2) More Complicated To Set Up

A flex schedule is much more complicated to set up than a traditional 9-to-5 schedule because each team member is probably going to want to start and end at different times.

Don’t let that deter you. Scheduling tools, like Inch, make it easy to keep everyone organized and on task when they’re at work.

3) Can Impair Communication

Effective communication is essential for the smooth operation of your business.

Sometimes, though, flex time can impair that communication and cause conflicts in everything from meeting schedules to new-employee interviews.

Again, that doesn’t mean you should scrap your program altogether. It just means that your business needs to provide different methods of communication that your team can use to keep the information flowing.

4) Often Requires Training

Flex time may be a new concept for some, and they may not fully understand — nor take advantage of — the benefits unless you set aside time to train them.

The nice thing is that said training doesn’t take very long. An hour, maybe two if there are a lot of questions, is all you need to get everyone on the same page.

Inch Makes Flex Time Easy

Inch Makes Flex Time Easy

Regardless of how you structure your flex time program, and who takes advantage of it, you’re going to need an easy way to keep track of everyone’s comings and goings.

The Inch app can help.

With Inch, you and your team can quickly and easily:

  • Track total time worked
  • Track time on task
  • Track attendance
  • Manage and coordinate team and individual tasks
  • Schedule appointments, jobs, and projects
  • Build staff work timetables
  • Communicate with one another wherever the work takes you

It doesn’t matter what type and size of business you run, where your employees work, and whether or not you implement flex time, Inch can help you and everyone in your company stay organized, focused, and working toward the same goal.

For more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit TryInch.com today.

Share post on

Get employees accountable and easily control the quality of the work

Try Inch — a free scheduling tool that solves these issues.

Save countless hours scheduling employees while controlling quality of their work and reducing cost of labor.

Get Inch – a free work management tool that can help resolve accountability issues!