Alternative Work Schedules Transform Today’s Federal Service
Alternative work schedules within the federal service are not a new concept. As far back as 1978, Congress enacted the Federal Employees Flexible and Compressed Work Schedule Act (FEFCWS). For more than 40 years, the federal government has been adapting and reworking the workplace schedule system to make the over 430 departments, agencies, and sub-agencies a better and positive work experience. Technological advances, cloud-based software solutions, and the desire of the workforce to have more flexibility within their careers are contributing factors that normalize alternative shifting work schedules within the federal workplace.
Traditional Office Busters Coming Soon to Your Workplace:
Utilizing a remote workforce is the key theme of this workplace option. Employees want the flexibility provided by a variety of work schedules. Transformation of the traditional office hours allows for new opportunities for employee performance. Alternative or flex time options are as varied as federal employees themselves. Agencies can provide their employees with options ranging from job sharing, flextime, compressed schedules and even shift-based office hours. For example, job sharing allows at least two employees to share the responsibilities of one position. The job can be split by a morning and afternoon shift or alternate days.
Day shift operations can allow for team coverage of the office between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., for example. Team members can balance their office schedules between a variety of 8-hour increments. It might be easy for one team member to arrive by 7 am. as long as the member can depart the office by 3 p.m. so after-school childcare requirements can be met. Conversely, an employee whose best commuting time is after rush hour might benefit by arriving at the office at 10 a.m. and handling later office hours by leaving at 6 p.m.
The flexible day shift options also contribute to enhanced communication with agencies and offices that need national and global outreach. With 79% of federal employees working outside the nation’s capital, it is essential that they have conference calls with their agency partners. Adjusting office hours to accommodate those employees who may live and work in different time zones is also vital to employee engagement.
Flex and Compressed Work Schedules allow full-time employees who work 80 hours in a bi-weekly period (less than 10 days) to maximize their time schedules. The agency sets the core operational hours: both the agency and employee work to establish variations of that core. The variations in the work schedule are represented as flexitour, gliding schedule, variable day and week, or even maxiflex. All the options are based on the needs of the employee and the agency.
Desperately Seeking Millenials
By 2025, millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce. The millennial generation could be called the “always-on” generation. 89% of millennials say they will check email and messages after traditional office hours. 77% of millennials say flex work schedules make them more productive, based on a new study by Bentley University. Millennials are comfortable with digital technology. This technology provides them with mobility and adaptability to be able to connect and complete tasks anywhere and anytime.
By providing alternative work schedules, agencies appeal to the work-life balance that millennials crave. Not only can they care for their family requirements, but they can also pursue experiences that allow them to achieve new goals. Educational experiences and opportunity to learn and master new skills match the career requirements millennials look for in their work life development. By allowing employees and teams to grow personally and find fulfillment outside their office space, they become more productive within their career. This fulfillment benefits the overall agency and the mission objectives for the team. Make the individual happy, and the team will reap the benefits.
Mission Impossible: The Solution
In a survey by Upwork, human capital managers predict that in the next 10 years, 38% of full-time permanent employees will work remotely. This prediction changes the way we need to look at the office, the structure of office hours, and the talent pool. It means that if the best talent for your team is located in Chicago, Denver, or Austin, it is possible to create the dream team for your agency by looking outside your regional barriers. It is mission critical to think past the traditional and into the future.
The everyday consumer connects with organizations that have a global reach. If the consumer has adapted to global call centers and online instant help desks, then the federal government can utilize the everyday citizen’s comfortability with this technology. The federal government should create office models that work for employees and provide better interaction for agencies, employees and citizens, alike.
Cloud-based software applications contribute to greater opportunities for federal employees. Data and project management located in cloud-based software solutions significantly increase productivity and team collaboration. Allowing federal employees to be more mobile can create continuity among programs. Mobility provides opportunities for employees to connect even if they are outside the office, for any reason. In the past, this flexibility may have been seen as an employee perk, in order for the employee to enjoy a three-day weekend or some extra vacation time. Mobility allows employees to connect in ways they have not been able to in the past. This flexibility in job productivity allows for better practices in recruitment and employee retention. It is not just a job perk; it is a career necessity for future generations.
The solution to a successful federal career force is busting the traditional workforce concepts and opening up new avenues of success.
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