Flextime: Definition, Advantages & Disadvantages

Instructor: Dr. Douglas Hawks

Douglas has two master's degrees (MPA & MBA) and a PhD in Higher Education Administration.

In this lesson you will learn what flextime is, how businesses use it to motivate employees, why many managers feel it is a good thing, and why others oppose the idea.


Traditionally, especially in the United States, a 'work day' has been defined as 8:00 am - 5:00 pm. This eight-hour day, with a one-hour lunch break, was one of the results of negotiations between labor unions and Henry Ford when he started mass producing automobiles. In the 1920s, it was a great schedule and it has remained the default work schedule for nearly a century.

While the 8-5 workday is still very common, work-life balance issues have become an important concern for employees and companies. Employees with good work-life balance are healthier, thereby requiring fewer sick days and healthcare costs; they're also more productive and help maintain a positive office morale. One way some managers have helped employees achieve their optimal work-life balance is through flextime. Flextime is a work schedule that requires employees to be present for predetermined core hours but allows them the flexibility to vary the rest of their schedule based on their needs and preferences.

Example of Flextime

If a company considers a full-time job to be 40 hours per week, those hours can be worked with the traditional 8-5, five-days-a-week work schedule. Alternatively, that company could offer flextime by setting a policy that requires all employees to be at work Monday - Thursday from 12:00 - 4:00 (for a total of 16 hours), but allows them to work the other 24 hours anytime between 6:00 am - 12:00 pm and 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm, Monday - Thursday, or anytime between 6:00 am - 8:00 pm on Friday.

Benefits of Flextime

Flextime offers benefits to the individual, the company, and the community. Individuals can vary their work schedule based on their family needs, such as kids' school schedules or partners' jobs. Companies not only benefit by having more satisfied employees, but also by being able to avoid overloading core function, such as IT. The community benefits because more people are able to adjust their schedules around public transportation schedules or non-commute times, resulting in less traffic and less air pollution from cars.

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