Since the days of Henry Ford, the 40-hour workweek has remained the standard for the American workforce. Until now.
With advancements in communication technologies, changes in family structure,and an increasing global economy, there has been a need for alternative and flexible work schedules. Because of this, an array of flexible and alternative work structures and schedules has emerged. Some examples of 21st century workweek innovations are:
Compressed Work Week
Instead of working the traditional 40 hours in five days, a compressed workweek involves distributing the 40 hours over a shorter time period. For example, 10 hours a day for four days out of the week.
On the other hand, someone may also choose to distribute his or her work more widely and take a 7 hours a day for 6 days a week approach.
Today, almost everyone in the modern workforce has either participated in or is familiar with telecommuting. Many people associate telecommuting with video conferencing and related communication, and while it does incorporate these devices, telecommuting simply means that a person does not physically commute to a central place of work. Instead, an employee can work from almost anywhere, so long as they can be reached via phone or internet.
Telecommuting has also given rise to the concept known as “coworking”. Coworking is the practice of sharing a workspace with others, typically not employed by the same company. This is especially attractive to people who like the structure of an office environment, but can’t be physically present at their employer’s main office.
Flextime is when a person works their daily hours during times outside of the typical 9-5 work period. This is especially popular for working moms and dads who need to drop off/pick up children from school each day, or people who may be in school or have other daily commitments that prevent them from working continuously throughout the day. For example, a mother may start work at 7:30am after she’s dropped her kids off at school for the day. She will then work until 2:30pm when she has to pick them up, and then return to the office or telecommute for an additional two hours.
Results Only Work Environment
The results only work environment (ROWE) is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of being paid for the number of hours worked, employees are paid based on their individual outputs. This approach allows managers to establish clear goals that can be easily met or unmet and then gives employees the freedom to meet said goals in their own way. The idea here is that the organization is granted more freedom by reducing the focus on employees daily routine.
Hot desking is the practice of sharing a desk or workspace with multiple employees during different time periods. Hot desking is typically used in offices where many of the employees aren’t physically present on a regular basis in order to save space and money, or in an office where employees each have multiple tasks and several people need to make use of a particular work station.
FedEx days don’t actually pertain directly to FedEx the company, but instead are named for the short time period given for employees to deliver. More specifically, FedEx days are 24 hour periods in an organization during which employees are given free reign to innovate –hacking, prototyping and presenting—in order to maintain or generate employee involvement with the creative dynamism of a startup, while pushing companies forward in new and exciting ways.
There’s a style or approach to fit the life and schedule of almost anyone. It’s simply about exploring all the available options to find the best solution for each individual and/or organization and being open to adaptation for the benefit of both the employees and the organization as a whole.
The 21st century is the era of flexibility and acceptance, and the work environment is no exception.