Flexible working hours vs fixed (fixed) working hours

According to the employment law, a normal day starts at 8:00 am and stops at 5:00 pm. This means employees must report by 8:00

According to the employment law, a normal day starts at 8:00 am and stops at 5:00 pm. This means employees must report by 8:00 am at work and leave by 5 pm. However, each employee must get two hours break during the working day. Effectively, the total time for productive work by an employee is six hours a day or 30 hours a week. Because some companies provide for lunch and tea to employees, they are required to account for it on the daily/weekly timesheet.

The rigid working hours require staff to report by 8:00 am and leave for home after 5:00 pm, daily without fail and variation. The staff must spend 40 working hours at the place of work per day if lunch and tea are provided at the place of work!

Note that the rigidity is in the time of reporting and leaving the place of work. The clock-in book or biometric is to track this. The question has been, is such necessary?

There are certain jobs where keeping time is critical.

A bank teller must be on the Till and make sure it is ready to receive customers on time. If the bank opens the branch by 8:00 am, the teller must be there. A security guard must be on site on the dot. The job requires keeping time. The nature of the job promotes rigidity!

Flexible working hours focus on tracking the number of hours worked by staff, and not necessarily the time of reporting to work. As long as the employee can demonstrate having attained 40 working hours, it does not matter when they worked them.

The flexi-time recommends that staff is free to define when they can work their 8 hours in the week – report to work at noon and leave at 10 pm! Or report at 10 am, and leave at 7 pm, or report at midnight and leave in the morning. As long as they make 40 hours in a work and a minimum of six hours per day, they are free to set their schedule so that it is flexible as much as possible.

Take a case to the Restaurant business. If the first meal must be ready to serve by 9:00 am, the Chef and team must be in the restaurant earlier, maybe at 5 am so that the morning meal is ready. This means they can be given a ‘flexible’ working schedule that responds to their roles, such that by 2 pm or 3 pm, they leave for home.

Conditions for flexible working hours

  • Clarity of targets

One must be responsible to drive their agenda to optimize the Flexi working conditions. Instead of the political-style of job descriptions, people on flexible working hours must have clarity of daily, weekly and monthly targets with clear measurable indicators, and tracking mechanisms.

The workers must be able to co-develop personal targets that are aligned to the organization’s vision, focus areas and objectives defined in the enterprise-wide scorecard.

Have you set clear measurable targets for each of your staff? Are the targets non-dependant on early reporting to work? If yes, consider introducing the Flexi work arrangements.

  • Mature, independent workers

You need independent workers who understand personal responsibility and self-drive. If you have young people, who do not yet appreciate how value is created and their roles in the journey, you risk confusing other colleagues at work. For example, someone may not understand why they report to work at 8:00 am sharp, yet their colleagues do not report at all, but they earn better.

This calls for clear communication across the organisation so that staff know the nature of the roles and approach to work being adopted to avoid the spread of the laziness virus, which comes with negative energy, loss of morale, and rumour-mongering. Before you know, the business is in a fix.

  • Performance-based pay

Flexi requires a pay that is based on value delivered. Have you attained your targets if yes, then I can pay? You don’t want staff to spend their most productive time elsewhere and come to your workplace when they are sleepy and tired!

This is not a business or just ‘showing up.’ You must deliver to your best. Before we look at how many hours you have logged as worked, first show us how you performed against the set targets? Did you attain the targets? If not, only be paid based on your contribution. Otherwise, people may abuse the flexible working time, and only show up when they are as good as useless. In the end, productivity and service quality shall fall leading to long term business failure.

  • Automated performance trackers and digital-driven working places

Have you implemented automated solutions to manage performance and staff productivity? If not, you may not yet be ready for flexible working hours.

Remember, if your business need skills that do not require physical presence at the place of work, then flex could be a great solution for floor space. However, if space is not the issue, better have your staff come early and brainstorm. Lots of good things happen when people meet.

  • Non-essential roles that can easily be done by someone else

Do you have some non-essential roles that would otherwise be outsourced? Increasingly, you need to be in charge of the critical business processes to assure value delivery throughout. Not good idea to have someone on flexible working hours championing them.

However, if customers are happy, and you have a business continuity for their offering, you are free to go. Unfortunately, many companies are not that ready.

Are you aware of any company with flexible working hours? Tell us more about it and why we should all adopt? What are your lessons?

Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2020. All rights reserved.

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