Flexible scheduling: self-determined hours or self-scheduling?

In an age where the traditional 9-to-5 grind is becoming as rare as a unicorn, the workplace is undergoing a radical makeover. Thanks to the remote work revolution and shifting labor dynamics, flexibility is the main keyword for successful HR.

Depending on the business needs and team dynamics, flexible scheduling can come in different shapes and flavors. Most common of them are self-determined schedules and self-scheduling.

Their main difference lies in their scope. A self-determined schedule gives employees full flexibility and control over the daily work routines routine, while self-scheduling lets workers choose their own shifts or hours within a predefined framework. 

Both concepts aim to promote employee autonomy and satisfaction, and are likely to improve work-life balance.

What is a self-determined schedule

A self-determined schedule refers to the ability of an individual to have control and autonomy over their own daily or weekly schedule. In this context, the individual has the freedom to decide when they start and end work, when they take breaks, and how they allocate their time to various tasks.

 This concept emphasizes the idea of personal agency and the ability to make choices about when and how work is conducted. It’s often associated with a higher level of flexibility and a focus on outcomes rather than strict adherence to traditional working hours.

One of the key advantages of a self-determined schedule is the empowerment it provides. Individuals can align their work with their natural body clock, ensuring they tackle complex tasks during their most productive hours. This approach taps into the concept of “chronotype,” recognizing that people have different energy levels and cognitive functions at various times of the day. Consequently, embracing autonomy allows for optimal performance and enhanced creativity.

Companies that are likely to allow self-determined schedules

  • Creative Industries: Companies in creative fields such as advertising, design, content creation, and software development often value self-determined schedules. These industries thrive on innovation, and individuals in these roles tend to have varying peaks of creativity that may not align with traditional 9-to-5 hours.
  • Tech Startups: Startups, especially in the technology sector, tend to prioritize outcomes over rigid schedules. They often encourage employees to manage their time independently, as long as they meet project deadlines and achieve results.
  • Remote-Focused Organizations: Companies that have embraced remote work arrangements are more likely to appreciate self-determined schedules. With team members scattered across different time zones, the emphasis shifts from set working hours to individual productivity and collaboration.
  • Freelance and Consulting Firms: In businesses that rely heavily on freelance or contract workers, self-determined schedules are the norm. These professionals work on multiple projects simultaneously and are expected to manage their time efficiently.
  • Research and Development (R&D) Companies: R&D-intensive industries like pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, and engineering often allow self-determined schedules. These roles involve periods of intense focus and experimentation that are not confined to traditional office hours.

What is self-scheduling

Self-scheduling, on the other hand, refers specifically to the practice of allowing employees to choose their own work shifts or hours within predefined boundaries. This is commonly used in industries that have multiple shifts during a single day, or require 24/7 coverage. Healthcare and customer service are great examples of this.

Instead of being assigned fixed shifts, employees are given the ability to select shifts that best align with their personal preferences, availability, and work-life balance needs. Self-scheduling aims to provide employees with greater control over their work hours while still ensuring that business operations are adequately staffed.

Companies that are likely to allow self-scheduling:

  • Retail and Service Industries: Companies in retail, hospitality and customer service sectors often offer self-scheduling to accommodate employees’ varying availability. This approach can help maintain a stable workforce and improve employee satisfaction.
  • Maintenance Industries: Landscaping, cleaning and facility maintenance businesses operate by scheduling employees to client appointments. This is often possible to do in a flexible manner, while considering the schedule preferences of staff.
  • Healthcare Facilities: Hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare settings often employ self-scheduling to manage the complex staffing needs of round-the-clock operations. Medical professionals often have unique schedules due to patient demands and emergencies.
  • Call Centers: Call centers often utilize self-scheduling to match shifts with employees’ preferences, helping to optimize call handling during peak hours.
  • Manufacturing and Production: In industries with shifts and production lines, self-scheduling might be utilized to accommodate various employee preferences while maintaining a continuous operation.
  • Gig Economy Platforms: Companies that operate gig economy platforms, connecting freelancers with clients, commonly rely on self-scheduling. Workers can select tasks or projects that fit their availability and skills.
  • Flexible Work Environments: Some traditional companies, recognizing the changing landscape of work, have adopted flexible policies that allow employees to determine their schedules to some extent. This is more common in industries where physical presence is not a strict requirement.

How we can help

Zelos Team Management is a very simple self-scheduling app. Besides shift signup, it offers a full suite of communication features, making it a perfect choice for managing a remote workforce.

Sign up for a free account or get in touch with our team for a personal demo.