Core Hours Strategy

A core hours strategy is simple.  Your company decides on a small amount of hours, usually less than half the total working week, when everyone will be expected to work – whether they are in the office or working remotely.

Here are some considerations:

Some organisations are tempted to use the strategy as a way to police and ensure people are at their desks.  They may opt, for example,  for Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm. Problem is, if core hours covers a large percentage of the working week, it may become too rigid for some employees. This can lead to attrition.

If you trust your people it helps and a successful core hours strategy will not be about monitoring. It will be based on how much collaboration time employees need and when clients want services.

Smarter companies tend to focus on couple of days and a time when most people really do need to be available.  One example would be core hours of Monday and Thursday, 10am to 3pm. Another might be core hours 10am to 3pm on Wednesday to Friday. Collective times when meetings can be arranged and colleagues can be reached.

Others leave it to their Managers to work out how their individual team will cover the workday, as long as the necessary level of customer service is provided. Their mantra maybe

‘I trust you as a leader to work out how your team will provide the necessary level of service between 8 and 6pm’.

The Benefits

What makes Core Hours useful is that it keeps many of the benefits of remote and flexible work alive – but enables collaboration and ease of connection too. Done right, it maintains a culture that is focused on the client.

It also plays to individual needs as workers can wake early and get much of their work done before the core hours, or they can wake late and get straight to work, working the rest of their hours in the afternoon or evening.

Training, meetings, collaboration and catch-ups can be scheduled in the core hours period, either in person, virtual or a combination. Employees can schedule appointments with clients during these periods too or get their heads down in the comfort of their home offices or the shared office space.

What it is not – is Flexi-Time

However, employees must realise that core hours will be based primarily on customer and business needs – while they will certainly benefit from them.

This method requires 2 way trust between the manager and the employee. Trust that employees will work their contracted hours to meet the needs of the business. They must be trusted to work to outcomes.  If that trust is not in place, core hours will fail and Leaders will revert to monitoring in some way.

Logging time in lieu is best left to the old fashioned practice of flexi time. People taking the mickey are normally exceptions to the rule.  They should be dealt with, as the exceptions they are, through the performance management process.

It’s up to the employee and manager to agree the schedule worked, provided the total hours add up to the contracted hours.

Once again, this puts more obligation in the hands of the manager for managing a distributed team and that highlights the need for different skills.

In summary

Core Hours can create harmony for teams that work staggered shifts. It also works well for those who set their own full-time work week schedules or who work only a few days a week. The best way to work out whether core hours will work in your business is to trial it.

The trick is to devise a core hours strategy for your business that meets the demand of your clients.  Doing it this way round will mean it filters through some lovely options for your employees too.

But it is not without it’s challenges! You should pilot carefully to work out what works for your business and what does not.  We can help.