Flexible working hours has been championed as a way to give employees more work-life balance – however, a study found that it may not be very beneficial for workers and employers alike.
A new research from the University of Melbourne found that the ‘4/10’ arrangement, where workers do four ten-hour days per week, can actually be damaging to employee satisfaction. Around 35 per cent of surveyed workers reported low satisfaction levels.
“These kinds of arrangements can actually be damaging in some cases, with workers experiencing fatigue from the longer daily hours and working extra hours,” wrote researchers Edward Hyatt and Dr Erica Coslor.
“There are [also] other downsides of flexible work practices including social pressure to conform to more traditional roles at the same time as working a ‘flexible’ schedule, the propagation of negative stereotypes about less committed mothers, and assumptions about availability and ‘face time’ hampering promotion and development prospects.”
Hyatt said employers often apply the 4/10 arrangement in order to cut expenses on opening the office. “What they were trying to do was save money, especially on utilities,” Hyatt told the ABC. “We found out that they did save money but it was very marginal compared to what they were hoping for.”
To gain the most optimum result from compressed working week, the researchers suggest giving employees more true freedom to determine their work time.
“An example of a truly flexible work schedule might be one that allows employees to determine their work time around a core set of designated business hours,” the researchers wrote. “If everyone is working in a truly flexible manner, the stigma that can hamper careers or make women feel like they ‘have’ to be available no longer applies. And expectations around meeting times can be limited by only scheduling them during core hours.”