One thing that I enjoy at my workplace is the lunchtime discussion. During one of these talk sessions, we began to discuss flexible hours and it turns out it isn’t as clear cut as we originally thought. Inspired, I did a bit of research on the subject and here is what I found:
According to research, people have a tendency to work more overtime hours once they are allowed to work flexibly, compared to when they were not. There are several reasons for this.
- People see flexible hours has a gift and want to reward their employer with harder work.
- People who are given flexible hours want to show that they can be trusted with the gift of autonomy. Sometimes this can lead to self-exploitation.
- People who are given flexible hours are evaluated on task-based performance outcomes. This sometimes allows employers to increase workloads without being confined by labour laws which regulate, for example, the maximum number of hours workers can work.
Sexism in the workplace also affects flexible hour employees, so be advised:
- Some employers tend to believe that women use flexible hours mainly for family-friendly purposes, which result in women not being rewarded in the same way as the male counterpart, regardless of the increase in their devotion to work.
If done right, flexible hours can potentially increase work-life balance. Before accepting flexible hours, an open conversation needs to happen. Both parties need to better understand exactly what is expected and how to avoid negative consequences. In other words, both parties need to understand how flex hours will be handled.
As a person with a chronic illness and numerous doctor appointments and medical tests, flexible hours sounds amazing. I would be able to work my 8 hours a day without losing all my sick days and my vacation days. I don’t remember the last time I took vacation days for actual vacation use. I could see myself falling into the self-exploitation trap, as I do work more when I am allowed to work from home. Then again that fact is probably simply explained by having fewer interruptions during the day.
Do you have experience with flexible hours? How did it go for you?
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