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5 Flexible Working Best Practices Every HR Pro Should Know

HR leaders predict that in 2022, the “new norm” will be flexible workplaces, not traditional ones. Companies who don’t embrace flexible arrangements like remote work, flextime, and adjusted workweeks will run the risk of losing talent. 

In this new era—now aptly dubbed the great resignation—losing talent is a risk no company is willing to absorb. The reality is: flexible working is here to stay. The question is no longer, “Should we do this?” but rather, “How do we do it right?” 

In this article, we’re laying out 5 flexible working best practices to help you create your workforce’s new (flexible) norm. 

But first, let’s define flexible work.

Defining “Flexible Work Schedule”

Flexible work schedules are adjustments to an employee’s hours and presence in the office. Also called flexible working arrangements, flexible work schedules provide employees with a better work-life balance. Each schedule should be unique to that employee’s current life circumstances. 

The following are common flexible working schedules:

    • Remote or hybrid work. Remote employees work from home full time. Hybrid work schedules allow employees to work from home part-time. Remote worker policies were necessary for 2020. Now, for some companies, they’re becoming the norm.
    • Short or compressed weeks. Short or compressed weeks reduce the number of days or hours worked during the week. Employers can either shorten the number of days worked, drop weekly hours, or both. A recent study in Iceland showed that short or compressed weeks helped employees without reducing productivity.
    • Flextime. Flextime policies allow employees to change their daily schedule to work around non-work-related activities. Flexible working hours also allow employees to account for workdays that exceeded the normal 8 hours. For example, if an employee had to work 12 hours on a given day, flextime will allow them to sleep in the next day.
  • Job sharing. Job sharing means allowing two employees to share the responsibilities of one full-time position. Essentially, each employee becomes a part-time employee. Job sharing is popular for employees who can no longer commit to full-time work. 

5 Flexible Working Best Practices

Maybe implementing flexible work schedules for the first time, or maybe you’re just adding a new schedule. Regardless, keep the following flexible working best practices in mind:

  1. Set Expectations 

Setting expectations early prevents confusion and inconsistency later. Below are some key expectations to set with employees before launching a flexible schedule. Although some may come directly from human resources, others should be set by supervisors. 

Working Hours 

Time and attendance are easy to track when employees work in the office or when you have set shifts. It can become challenging if you allow remote work or flextime. So, before launching a new flexible work schedule, create a plan for tracking your employee’s work.

Each plan should account for:

  • the employee’s desired flexibility
  • whether they’re paid by the hour
  • which time tracking software the company has, and
  • how performance is measured.

Requesting Time Off

Requesting time off may become more complicated when your employees have flexible schedules. For example, if you’re implementing flexible work schedules that don’t align with normal shifts, absent employees may create awkward gaps at work. To guard against this, create a time-off request procedure that accounts for flexible employees. 


Flexibility is as much about work-life balance as it is about trust. Employers must agree to trust their employees, and employees must maintain that trust if they want a flexible schedule to be sustainable. Making sure employees understand that they will be held accountable will help build trust. 

To ensure accountability, adjust performance evaluations to account for flexible work schedules. Since employees may not feel trusted if evaluations are changed AFTER they begin their new flexible schedule, make sure to do it ahead of time. 

Another way to maintain accountability is to help employees set goals and deadlines. To keep track of both, supervisors can keep both on agendas used during check-in meetings.

  1. Establish Clear Lines of Communication

Communication is the most important element of any flexible working arrangement. Create a communication plan early on that accounts for the employee’s typical work schedule and includes regular check-ins.

A common challenge for managers is how much communication is enough, and how much is too much? This will depend on the company, the position, the employee, and the arrangement. For example, a senior employee who reports directly to a business owner will have different needs than a new employee in an entry-level position. 

Supervisors should create a plan together with the employees they supervise. This may include Zoom calls or weekly email check-ins.

  1. Create Flexible Work Schedules that Fit Employee Needs

Employees who prefer a flexible work schedule likely have unique needs. While some employees want flexibility because they’re more productive in an at-home work environment, others may ask for flexibility for childcare responsibilities. Flexible working schedules should look different for each of these employees.

  1. Run Trial Periods

Some companies think that if they offer a flexible working arrangement, it has to stay that way. In reality, running a trial period is a great way to make sure that the arrangement is actually working the way you want it to. 

In fact, the employers who participated in the flexible work study in Iceland attributed their success to being able to make changes. Those employers created flexible work schedules with the understanding that changes may be necessary. In some cases, they were.

  1. Incorporate Necessary Training

Training and development for flexible working environments are often overlooked by supervisors, but it’s an important best practice for companies new to flexible working. Training should account for management skills and any technology used to facilitate flexible work.

Manager Training

Managing employees who work remotely, share jobs, or use flextime is not the same as managing traditional employees. But sometimes, managers don’t realize what’s different. Unfortunately, this can lead to micro-managing, ineffective communication, and sometimes a breakdown of the flexible work schedule. 

Manager training that addresses the difference between managing flexible work schedules and traditional work schedules will ensure that managers are effective. It will also help employees understand what’s expected of them.

Tech and Software Training

Implementing flexible work schedules sometimes means using new software or software features. Employees may need to use videoconferencing software or new time-keeping software. Be sure to address any of these software training needs with managers and employees with flexible schedules.