What is it?
A flexible work schedule is an alternative to the traditional nine-to-five working day. It is also an alternative to the forty-hour week. A flexible schedule allows workers to vary when they come in and leave their workplace. Flexible work schedules can apply to both on-site and remote employees.
How does it help?
There are many reasons why employees with disabilities and diverse abilities may need a flexible schedule in order to work optimally during hours of increased attentiveness. Flexible schedules can be used to have a period of mental and/or physical rest in order to refocus and reorient to their work. Examples of a flexible schedule would be adjusting starting and ending times of the workday, combining regularly scheduled breaks to create one extended break or dividing large breaks into smaller segments, and allowing work to be completed during hours when the employee is most mentally alert.
Flexible work schedules can help employees with:
Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) is a neurobehavioral disorder that affects three to five percent of American children and adults. The common characteristics of AD/HD are impulsivity, inattention, and/or over-activity. Many people with AD/HD find early starts to their day challenging due to medication or their AD/HD type.
A flexible work schedule can help employees with AD/HD who require later work start times to engage more fully and productively with work. Likewise, adjusting and/or consolidating break times can also leverage the AD/HD capacity to hyperfocus, leading to higher quality work output overall.
Flexible work schedules can be especially helpful for people with caregiving responsibilities outside of the workplace. The ability to adjust work start and end times allows employees to maintain a strong work-life balance by removing the stressor of possible reprimand. Caregiving responsibilities can often require adhoc absences depending on the caregiving requirements.
Allowing flexible work hours for people who live with chronic pain means that employees can work a schedule that is better suited to their needs. For example, some people may experience chronic pain more intensely in the afternoon and may benefit from an earlier start time, or more regular breaks.
Insomnia can affect people differently, and sleep/wake times vary greatly. A flexible work schedule prioritizes employee wellness by allowing workers to start work when they are most alert and rested.
Mental Health Conditions
There are many reasons why someone with a mental health condition like anxiety and depression may benefit from a flexible work schedule. From insomnia to panic and anxiety attacks, there are many reasons why early start days or late evening shifts might be detrimental to an employee's mental health.
Looking for more detailed information on workplace adjustments?
The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is the leading source of free, expert, and confidential guidance on job accommodations and disability employment issues. Serving customers across the United States and around the world for more than 35 years, JAN provides free practical guidance and technical assistance on job accommodation solutions, and self-employment and entrepreneurship options for people with disabilities.
Do you want to be a more inclusive and accessible employer?
Take this 15-minute Disability Inclusive Employer Self-Assessment to gain a deeper understanding of where you’re doing well and where there’s room to improve.
Open Door Group and Presidents Group collaborated on this tool, created from recent international research on practices that truly increase inclusion and retention of people with disabilities in the workplace.