Some people assume remote work is inherently flexible—that people who work from home, or from various distributed locations like digital nomads, are using flexible schedules, working varied hours, or perhaps compressing their workweeks into smaller chunks of time.
But that’s rarely the case. As remote work enters more mainstream traditional workplaces, some of the structures surrounding work (hours, location, days per week, etc.) remain in tact. So what are some other types of flexibility that remote companies could potentially offer?
A Flexible Work Guide for Remote Managers
Below is a primer on the other main types of flexible work options remote managers and companies might consider offering to staffers, including flexible schedules, alternative schedules, job sharing, and part-time professional roles.
A flexible schedule is an all-encompassing term that means someone’s schedule can vary from traditional work hours (generally thought of as nine a.m. to five p.m., but in reality is probably closer to eight a.m. to six p.m. for modern office-type workers).
Remote managers should consider different variations of flexible scheduling and which ones their workers will have the ability to use.
- Varied, but regular, start or end times to the work day
- Compressed workweeks, where 40 hours are worked in 4 days, for example
- A worker setting their own schedule on any given day
- The ability to “bank” hours, extra worked to be used for time off at a later date
- A worker shifting their schedule for personal appointments or issues
Not all of these will make sense for each role or each company, so it’s important for remote managers to consider all the possibilities before enacting a flexible schedule policy.
These are generally set schedules that are reliable and don’t change regularly, but that occur outside traditional work hours.
Night and weekend work is considered an alternative schedule, but this would also apply to someone who works 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. every day, for example.
By shifting someone’s hours like this, remote companies can offer added coverage for customer service, or ensure someone is available to monitor different processes during different points in the day. And these jobs fit well with some workers who need to work outside traditional office hours.
Job sharing is a flexible work option in which two people split one full-time role into two part-time jobs. Each person is responsible either for a certain amount of the work that gets done, or for working a certain number of hours or days each week.
The main benefit of job sharing, for a company, is that someone is always available during the workweek in a particular role (rather than just making the role part-time, in which one person works). Job sharing also helps to maintain coverage for certain roles, in the event that someone is out for vacation or an unexpected illness.
For individuals, job sharing can help them stay professionally active on a part-time basis, and it creates part-time work options where only full-time options might have previously existed.
Part-time Professional Roles
Unlike job sharing, a part-time professional role is a single job that one person does, working part-time hours to do it.
The benefits for remote companies hiring people into part-time roles is that they can bring on excellent talent in a part-time capacity, which helps save on labor costs—especially important for young and growing companies that need to be careful of budget overruns. Over time, as the company grows and the role takes on more responsibility, the option to transition into full-time is always there.
For professionals, part-time roles allow a lot of people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to work the chance to work in a part-time capacity. Some examples are parents, people who act as caretakers for elderly relatives, people with disabilities or health issues who can’t work full-time hours, and professionals who are also students earning advanced degrees.
The Bottom Line: Crafting the Best Flexible Work Options for Your Team
In remote companies, each of these types of flexibility may have pros and cons, depending on the company. Remote managers need to carefully consider each option before deciding whether to offer it to current or future workers.
By understanding the potential impacts, both positive and negative, remote managers can craft a flexible work policy that works for both the company and its workers.