- Forty-one percent of managers let employees pick their own hours, a recent survey from consulting firm Robert Half found. Further, 27% of managers don't mind if employees put in fewer than 40 hours a week if they finish their work. Employers most likely to offer flexible hours were those at large companies (with more than 1,000 employees); those in marketing, legal or administrative departments; and those with a hybrid work arrangement in place.
- Despite this flexibility, workers remain busy and in some cases, overworked. Robert Half found that 72% of employees need at least eight hours per day to get their work done; 43% are attending more video calls now than six months ago; and 48% feel unable to disconnect during business hours and "feel obligated to respond to messages and requests immediately, even during breaks."
- Robert Half worked with independent research firms, which surveyed 2,800 senior managers during June and July and 1,000 workers during August.
Flexibility has been a key driver of pandemic-borne change, beginning with the shift to remote work for many offices and continuing with many companies permanently declaring hybrid or remote arrangements. With employees under the stress of changing child care requirements and other home-related needs — and with employees gaining more power in the workplace — employers have also embraced flexibility in employees' working hours, as the Robert Half survey results demonstrate.
That nearly a third of employers don't necessarily measure employee output by number of hours worked but rather ability to get work done may be a more telling aspect of the survey. With burnout on the rise and rapid change in the workplace becoming the norm, some employers have embraced more generous leave policies and even arrangements like the 4-day workweek. An cutting-edge approach to work may be based around productivity rather than hours worked.
That most workers still require a minimum of eight hours per day may be a consequence of the Great Resignation, which has seen employees working overtime in the wake of the colleagues' departures.
"Everyone plays a part in combatting the pressures of an 'always-on' culture," Paul McDonald, senior executive director of Robert Half, said in a statement. "Workers should speak up when they feel overwhelmed and set boundaries. And leaders should promote wellness policies and programs, be empathetic to their employees' needs, and bring in extra support when possible."
Due to implicit and explicit workplace pressures, it can be challenging for workers to speak up or set boundaries, however. Employers can encourage the behavior by soliciting feedback and fostering an environment where problems are acknowledged, responded to, considered, and, whenever possible, addressed.