Offered employees flexible working hours: now no one shows up on time! What to do?


I have a very small operation (just three employees) and we decided to try out flexible hours when we hired our latest engineer. Now no one shows up on time every day!

Usually it's not an issue, but I would really like the team to be there working together. Anyway I can back-track on that perk without making them feel like they lost a privilege?

Employees Human Resources Perks

asked Mar 1 '14 at 06:41
Kenya Brouwer
90 points
  • I would absolutely give two-weeks notice if something like that happened at any of my less flexible positions. If it is "usually not an issue" then don't do it. Also remember flexible hours can mean you're getting extra work in. Just schedule some meetings in later afternoon. – Garet Claborn 8 years ago

2 Answers


I agree with Nick Stevens. It's an contradiction to be allowing flexible working hours and then thinking that nobody is showing up on time. It sounds like you've told your employees that they have a perk when your mind isn't actually giving it to them.

I'd suggest the immediate problem isn't how to rescind the perk, but how to convince your brain to just let it go for a while and evaluate it objectively. Is the work still getting done? Are you able to coordinate well enough still? Are people starting to put in only half days? If it's actually causing problems, you should be able to list specific examples of how it is affecting getting the work done.

The ability to have flexible hours is a huge one, honestly. Some people will take a massive cut in pay to have flexibility in their schedule. For example:

  • It allows parents to be able to drop their kids off at school and pick them up, or leave in the middle of the day to see their kid's school programs.
  • It allows people to schedule doctor and dentist appointments without worry.
  • It allows people to be night owls and show up at work past noon, or be early birds and head home by 3 to go do other things with a lot of daylight hours ahead of them.
  • The emotional benefit of knowing you're in control of your own schedule.

I don't think there's a way in the world to rescind this without making people feel like they've lost something valuable, because that's exactly what's happened.

In the future, I'd suggest when you give out a perk like this, that you make it clear that it is on a trial basis first. (Perhaps you did.) If everybody knows it could be taken away 3 or 6 months down the line, it won't be as rough when it is.

In the situation you're in, it would be helpful to sit everybody down and have a discussion about how they think it's going. Bring up the concerns and problems you're seeing it cause. (See paragraph #2.) This can help with a number of things:

  • You might find people agree it's not working.
  • You might also get some feedback on ways you could actually make it work.
  • They will feel like they've been involved in the decision, instead of just having it done by executive fiat and royal decree, which is worth a lot.
  • You'll put the idea in people's heads that it's a perk that could get taken away, which would soften the blow a few weeks later when/if it is.

I might also suggest that there is middle ground here. A lot of businesses don't just give complete free range in working hours, but give "core business hours" that everybody is expected to be there for. For instance, you could say, "Core business hours are from 10-2. We expect you to be here then so we can coordinate meetings, etc., but you could show up and 6 am and leave at 2 pm, or show up at 10 and leave at 6 pm." This still allows for quite a bit of flexibility while still giving you the coordinating time in there as well.

answered Mar 1 '14 at 16:23
3,465 points
  • Hmm, I think this is a good answer, but I disagree with any softening-the-blow techniques. While it's better than flat reversing a decision; the primary concern should be the measured, not perceived, effectiveness of the team. If I were told we had flexible hours and this were removed I would be finding a new job very shortly. – Garet Claborn 8 years ago


Flexible hours usually means that there isn't a set time that people must be at the office - so showing up "on time every day" seems a strange expectation.

If your team is making agreements to be at the office, together, at a certain time, but showing up late, that's basic disrespect of the agreements made with each other. That's the conversation you should be having - not revoking "perks".

answered Mar 1 '14 at 11:01
Nick Stevens
4,436 points

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