The Rise of Flex Time: Managing Complex Employee Scheduling Demands

employee scheduling

Dolly Parton famously sang "Workin' 9 to 5" in 1980. At the time, this was a common work schedule and one that some people still work to this day. However, many workplaces have moved away from traditional hours and now offer a much less rigid set of work hour expectations. This is to say that the traditional 9 to 5 workday has nearly become a relic of the past. In many cases, the employees are the ones driving the change. Their demands for more flexibility in their work-life balance have forced many businesses to reconsider how they structure their schedules. 

The Changing Landscape of Workforce Diversity

At least 14 million Americans receive the majority of their income from "gig work". Many more receive at least some income from performing the occasional "gig". This type of work is done on a contract basis and does not carry with it the burdens and responsibilities of being a formal employee of the company that the work is performed for. A well-known example of an industry that uses an army of gig workers is the food delivery services such as DoorDash and UberEats. These companies allow contractors to earn some money performing a task while also avoiding having to go through the official process of becoming an employee. 

Flexibility like this is in high demand among many different types of workers. They want a more flexible work life that includes the ability to set their schedule and take periods off when they wish to. This is why many companies have felt the need to offer part-time work and other flexible work options for employees. 

As nice as it is to allow workers to have a flexible and dynamic schedule for themselves, it can also be a challenge for many employers to provide this offering. They are responsible for ensuring that they keep track of all the hours and work performed by their diverse workforce, and it is certainly not easy to do when everyone has an individualized schedule. Remembering which employees are on which schedule is challenging even in the best of circumstances, and it is even harder today with the diverse schedules that some offer. However, it may still be worthwhile simply because this flexibility is what many employees demand. 

Understanding the Needs of Different Employee Types

Getting your arms around the specific needs of different parts of your workforce is an excellent way to show them that you care and that you are doing everything within your power to provide for them. It also means spending some time examining the needs of different kinds of workers in-depth. Let's have a look at what some of those needs look like for specific types of workers. 

Full-Time Employees

The employees who work the closest to a traditional schedule are full-time employees. They are scheduled for 40 hours per week (or more), and they are expected to be seen around the office for significant parts of the day. These individuals provide a lot of value to their employers because they are there as much as they are. These employees tend to have a few things at the top of their minds when they accept a job. They want to always receive their full allotment of hours (at least 40) and count on the stability of their pay cheque. 

Full-time employees are generally using the work that they perform for you to pay for all of their day-to-day expenses, and they must be able to count on receiving enough hours to do so. Additionally, many full-time employees wish to have a reasonably good set of benefits to go along with their full-time pay. Thus, these employees are both some of the most productive and most costly from a labour perspective. 

Part-Time Employees

Individuals who work less than 40 hours per week for an employer are considered "part-time employees". Sometimes, these individuals are part-time simply because there is not enough work available for them to go full-time. However, in other circumstances, they are part-time by choice. They may have other responsibilities such as continuing their education or raising children. Part-time work suits them well because they have the flexibility they require to handle everything on their plate. 

Temporary Employees

Certain jobs only require a set amount of work before they are complete. Those jobs don't necessarily require a full-time or even part-time employee to perform them all the time. In that case, it can be highly beneficial to use the labour of a temporary employee to help out. He or she can fill the role while there is still work that needs to be done. Then, once that job is completed, they can be let go. 


These individuals work on a contract basis and do not have a formal employment agreement with the company they perform work for. Instead, they are simply picking up tasks that pay a set amount of money for a specific amount of their labour. These gig workers can work as much or as little as they want (provided that there is work available), and they are compensated based on the total amount of work that they complete. These individuals have the most flexibility of all, but they don't receive the benefits given to full-time and part-time employees.

The Limitations of Traditional Scheduling Approaches

There are glaringly obvious drawbacks to the traditional 9 to 5 scheduling that was used for decades. explains why this rigid and traditional work scheduling simply does not work in today's world: 

Some people are night owls and prefer to hammer out the work when others are still asleep. Others are early risers, ready to get started the second their heads leave the pillow – but who are burned out by midafternoon. 

There's also the fact that 9 to 5 is, by definition, rigid and inflexible. This rigidity can be detrimental to employee morale as well as hiring and retaining employees. 

Although traditional scheduling might be easier for employers to set up, it is not the ideal way to schedule employees today. Forcing this type of schedule on everyone means that you might be crushing the peak productivity of some employees. Instead, you should create a more dynamic set of schedules that are flexible for all different types of employees. In that way, you will allow yourself to be as open as possible to different types of workers who can fulfil various roles and help you get things done. 

Customized Solutions for Complex Employee Scheduling

Using a customized scheduling approach is by far the best way to do things today. You can meet the needs of all employees and personality types, and you can get work done constantly. Custom scheduling solutions are also useful for the following reasons:

  • Attracts New Employees - Advertising a non-traditional schedule can allow you to attract workers who might turn their nose up at a traditional schedule. For example, you might be able to draw from a group of people who define themselves as "night owls". Those individuals might not be interested at all in working 9 to 5 but may flock to a job that offers them the chance to work at night. 
  • Work Throughout Different Time Zones - Don't forget to think of your customers and clients when creating schedules for your employees as well. Your clients and customers might work in various time zones and require contact with you during a time that is far outside the traditional 9 to 5 working hours. If that is the case, then you can meet that need by hiring employees who work a custom schedule. 
  • Greater Retention - Customized work schedules are also great for improving retention rates. Ideally, you want to keep your retention rate at 90% or higher. This is because it is costly to constantly hire and train new employees. If you can hold on to the people that you have already hired, then you will save yourself a lot of money and improve your bottom line. 

All of this (and more) is possible when you create customized schedules for your employees. They do so much to help your business, this is the least that you can do to say "thank you" for their hard work. 

Best Practices for Effective Employee Scheduling

Businesses rely on their HR managers to help them create a scheduling system that works for everyone. This is why it is necessary to communicate with those individuals to ensure they understand what you are aiming for when it comes to creating the best possible scheduling system for all employees. 

It is important to stress clear communication, flexible scheduling practices, and the role of ongoing scheduling review to determine what the best options are for employees in the future. Keep in mind the fact that the best scheduling practices have changed dramatically even in the last few years, and there is every chance in the world that they will again move forward.

Case Studies or Examples

There are plenty of examples of companies that have taken to hear the idea that they need to provide flexible schedules for employees. A few of the following companies clearly understand the upsides of offering flexible work options for employees: 

  • Dell Computers - They allow workers to perform their duties outside traditional work hours. In fact, many employees are allowed to create a schedule that works best for them. Some opt to keep things fairly traditional in their approach, but there are many others who have embraced the opportunity to create a completely different plan for themselves. 
  • Humana - This health insurance company has been moving workers out of office buildings and allowing them to work from home. They invested in the technology they needed to make it easier to record their employee's calls (as they need to) from home. Finally, the call centre workers have the ability to get things done from the comfort of their homes.

These are just two examples of companies that are making custom scheduling work for them. There are many more who are creating the changes that they want to create as well.

Looking Towards the Future

It is the responsibility of every business leader to stay on top of the changes that are coming to the way that employees are scheduled to work. It is necessary to look at developing trends and attempt to best understand what various employees are looking for, as well as what offers will turn them off. Having a better idea about all of that can better help you know what you should offer and provide to your workforce and to the people who might consider working for you under the right circumstances.

Right now, remote work is extremely popular, and it is likely to stay that way. Offer that option if at all possible, and make sure you keep those workers engaged and productive in their jobs as well. When everyone is working toward the same goals as this, great things can happen. 


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