How to Teach Job Seekers About Flexible Work Hours

How to Teach Job Seekers About Flexible Work Hours


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It is an enormous relief for many graduates that the working world they’re now entering is much closer to “normal” than it was a year ago. Some aspects of it, however, will never be the same. The pandemic has undeniably made policies like remote work and flexible work hours more appealing to employers and employees. 

As much as the adjustment is an exciting step forward for work-life balance, this kind of change can still feel daunting to new job seekers.

Willis Towers Watson’s research indicates that 37% of organizations had no policies or principles to manage nontraditional work arrangements before 2020. And as of last October, 59% of employees now telecommute. It’s no secret that such a dramatic change can feel overwhelming for leaders and workers. But it impacts job seekers as well. 

Since they weren’t in the workforce when remote work became common, it can all feel unknown to young job seekers. As such, they likely have a lot of questions about how remote or hybrid work schedules will all shake out. And while it’s impossible to have all the answers at this stage, you can offer a 101 overview.

Here’s how to successfully walk students and recent grads through a basic breakdown of what to expect from flexible work hours:

Start by defining the vocabulary

Nothing will make sense if you don’t first introduce your job seekers to the popular terms they may see in job listings or hear from recruiters. Start with basic definitions and examples before diving into the complexities of anything else. 

Remote: 

In remote work, employees complete work virtually in alternative locations to the traditional office. Workers can spend their hours in a home office, or they may choose to go to a public place like a library or cafe. Bottom line: They do not have the option to work in an office that their company provides. 

Note that some job listings will specify “temporary” or “permanent” remote work. “Temporary” indicates that the employer expects their new hire to work in the office eventually, and “permanent” means that the employer would like to keep the position remote no matter what. 

Phrases like “working from home” or “telecommuting” are often used interchangeably with remote work. 

According to a 2020 FlexJobs study, 27% of workers would take a 10% to 20% pay cut to work remotely. 

Hybrid: 

A hybrid model means that employees will spend some of their time working remotely and some of their time in the office. However, each company has a different policy for hybrid work. 

Some may give workers complete control over where they want to work each day. Others ask workers to spend X amount of days a week in the office and Y from home. And then certain employers prefer to designate which days staff will be in the office. (Ex: Wednesdays are remote, and all other days are in the office.)

The 2020 FlexJobs study also found that 65% of respondents want permanent remote work after the pandemic, and 31% want a hybrid option. Overall, that’s 96% of workers who would like some form of remote work. 

Flexible work hours: 

Flexible work hours are a break from the standard 9 to 5 workdays, Monday through Friday. Under these conditions, employees have some level of choice regarding when they want to get the job done. 

This kind of schedule may mean workers choose to work at a different time of day, work longer hours Monday through Thursday to have Friday off, or step away for lengthier or more frequent breaks each day. 

Like with the hybrid model, each company may offer different options. Some may ask that workers select their schedule preferences and stick to them. Others may allow them to adjust their schedules day-by-day as needed so long as they communicate to the team when they are available.

Flexible work is not a guarantee in either remote or hybrid modalities, but it can be successful with both. 

A 2018 Zenefits survey found that 68% of the youngest respondents (ages 18 to 24) agreed flexible work arrangements increased their satisfaction at work, and 78% of all respondents said the arrangements made them more productive.

Explain what factors play into compatibility with flexible work hours

Job seekers should be well-acquainted with their personality and work style to make informed decisions about optimizing flexible work hours. 

They should know what time of day they focus best, what settings are most distracting, and what they need to stay motivated during the day. 

For example, the 2020 FlexJobs study revealed that 20% of workers find it difficult to “unplug” when they work from home, and 49% miss seeing their colleagues. If a job seeker knows they tend to overwork themselves and prioritize community at work, they may want to avoid permanent remote positions. 

Also, suggest that they take a hard look at their self-discipline. There’s no shame in someone admitting they do best in structure. Given the option to be in near-complete control of their schedule, will they feel structured enough? Will they be able to maintain it? 

Develop go-to questions about flexibility for interviews

Once your job seekers discover how they work and what they prioritize in their work environments, you can use those values to establish what questions they’ll need to ask potential employers during the job search process

Here are some to get you started: 

  • How do meetings/collaborative projects work if everyone’s on different schedules?
  • What is the company’s approach to overtime? 
  • How do managers keep track of when team members are in or out? 
  • What does flexibility mean to this company? Do employees pick their hours and stay consistent with them? Or does everyone have the option to work different hours each day? 

If your job seekers are interested in having children someday, be sure they also ask about parental leave policies. According to a 2019 FlexJobs survey, about 31% of women who took a career break after having kids said it was not something they wanted to do. They had to because workplace flexibility was not available. 

Flexible work hours sound like they will help resolve that issue for working parents. But remember, every organization can have a different interpretation of flexibility. 

Be sure your job seekers feel prepared to get to the heart of how policies work and if they’re a good fit before committing to a position.

Help your job seekers land remote jobs with these tips! 


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