With the changing basic requirements of life largely due financial, social, political and economic constraints, there has been an increased need of setting up flexible forms of employment in order to create an element of work-life balance. Possenried and Plantenga (2011) suggest that there are three forms broad categories of flexible working arrangements and ACAS in their 2015 report provided subcategories in each as follows:
Flexi-time – Flexibility in scheduling
- Part-time work
- Compressed hours
- Term time hours
- Annualized hours.
Tele-home working – Flexibility in location
- Mobile working
- Hot desking.
Part-time – Flexibility in length of work
- Job sharing
- Shift work
- Temporary working and fixed term contracts
- Zero hours contracts.
Balance careers (2018) also explored advantages and disadvantages of flexible working arrangements to both the employer and employee as follows.
Flexibility to meet family and personal responsibilities at a convenient time. With a flexible work schedule, parents can personally drop and pick their kids from school or one can attend to managing their side businesses which is common in Kenya or even commit more time to post graduate studies.
Reduced consumption of employee commuting time and fuel costs. Nairobi is characterized by terrible traffic jams especially around the rush hours of 6am – 9am and 4pm and 7pm where an average commute to and from work could be as long as 3 hours. If employees are allowed to work from home, or allowed to come in later (or much earlier) and leave later (or much earlier) they would be saving a lot of time and fuel costs.
Increased feeling of personal control over schedule and work environment. Companies are nowadays moving away from proper hierarchical structures of idea and strategy generation. With personal control over work schedule, workers are encouraged to think more entrepreneurially.
Reduced employee burnout due to overload. Employees are able to break their workload into chunks which means that they can take breaks when they need it. It also allows people to work they feel more comfortable to achieve results e.g. working from home, at a café, early mornings or late nights.
An employee who works from home may find it difficult to work with employees who prefer working from the office.
The line between work and home life may be blurred and may end up affecting relationships with friends, family or even your employer. E.g. the family may not understand that when you took a day off on Friday to spend time with them, you still had assignments to work on during the weekend.
Increased employee morale, engagement and commitment to the organization. Flexible working arrangements if managed carefully can be viewed as a perk while at the same time it may improve productivity.
Can reduce absenteeism and tardiness. Flexible hours and scheduled breaks will reduce burn out and improve focus.
Develops image of company has employee of choice and therefore able to recruit and retain the best talent.
Allows employees to work when they best prefer and thus able to deliver the best results i.e. morning people vs night owls.
Flexible work arrangements may reduce team cohesion when employees on a certain team do not meet physically to share ideas and progress.
Some employees may take advantage of flexitime and use the time meant for work at home to do personal activities at the expense of the employer.
Some managers who are used to close supervision of employees my find it difficult to adjust to flexi-schedules and may view these employees as slackers which may have an impact on their reviews.
Not all jobs in the company can be flexed e.g. assembly line employees. Employers would struggle to create an environment of fairness when full time employees view themselves as unfairly treated compared to employees of flexible schedules.