Have you ever heard the term “windowed work”? I hadn’t until recently. So when I heard about it, I decided to find out not only what it means, but if it is something likely to become the norm and, if so, how employers and employees can make it work successfully.
Flextime — the ability for employees to choose their own starting and ending times — has been part of the workplace for quite some time, notes Michelle Reisdorf, Chicago regional vice president of staffing firm Robert Half.
“But the concept didn’t fully morph into windowed work — blocking your workday into distinct chunks of business and personal time — until the pandemic hit,” she explains.
As a recent Robert Half survey shows, windowed work has become quite mainstream since COVID-19 arrived: Nearly four in five (79%) of professionals surveyed said their job allows for it; of those, 73% said the arrangement leads to improved productivity.
And while Reisdorf says this new, flexible work arrangement was “born out of necessity by professionals who needed to juggle their work with taking care of children, elderly parents or other personal responsibilities,” she doesn’t think it will disappear when the pandemic passes.
“I do think it will continue in some form or shape, as the concept of windowed work will be just as important to employees when organizations prepare to return to the office,” Reisdorf says. “Our findings show that people are happier and more productive if they have control over when and where they do their jobs. Companies should consider flexibility a core part of their company culture and have policies and programs in place that support it.”
So, what’s the secret to making windowed work successful for employees and their employers?
“Communication is key to ensuring everyone is aligned on priorities, deliverables and deadlines, and colleagues feel equally invested to achieve business goals,” Reisdorf stresses.
When releasing survey data, Robert Half offered these additional tips to help employees and employers make a smooth transition to windowed work schedules:
— Coordinate team coverage. Make sure there’s a designated person to respond to incoming requests made during core business hours.
— Identify your power hours. Determine the time of day you think you’re most productive. Do you reach peak productivity early in the morning, late in the afternoon or in the evening? “Carve out quiet time to tackle high-priority projects when you tend to hit your groove,” the firm suggests.
— Set wide windows. Bouncing between tasks can be inefficient. Cluster activities that require similar effort and resources, and block off hourlong increments, or longer, to get them done.
— Schedule and share your calendar. This is part of the communication that Reisdorf says is so essential. Make sure you let your co-workers and supervisor know when you’ll be available, and when you’ll be offline and not easily reachable.
When managed thoughtfully, windowed work can be a boon for employees and employers alike, Reisdorf says.
“Being able to manage your own schedule and take care of personal tasks during the workday may help alleviate burnout and ultimately improve worker productivity. Some professionals, however, may feel more productive following a more traditional schedule — and that’s OK,” Reisdorf concludes.
“As an employer, the idea is to offer your staff flexibility and let them choose, within reason, what arrangement works best for their circumstances. Companies that value the well-being of their employees and offer this type of flexibility are more likely to attract and retain skilled talent.”
(Article written by Kathleen Furore)