This article was published on July 23, 2010

Startup Lessons Learned: Flex Time vs. Office Hours

Startup Lessons Learned: Flex Time vs. Office Hours
Danny Wong
Story by

Danny Wong

Danny Wong is the co-founder of Blank Label (an award-winning luxury menswear company). He is also a marketer-at-large for Conversio (an all Danny Wong is the co-founder of Blank Label (an award-winning luxury menswear company). He is also a marketer-at-large for Conversio (an all-in-one ecommerce marketing dashboard), Tenfold (a modern phone intelligence platform) and Big Drop Inc. (a web design and development agency). Want to connect? Reach him through his website.

Editors Note: This is another guest contribution from Danny Wong, co-founder of Blank Label, a custom men’s dress shirts startup that has seen tremendous growth in under eight months since launch. We’re delighted to have him share his thoughts and experience on building startups here.

In a world where you can work remotely from anywhere in the world, as well as work with anyone in the world, flex time seems to be a more popular option for workers. You set your own hours, the ones that work best for you, and you’re not constrained to the typical 9-to-5.

So, let’s weigh in on the pros and cons, and the pitfalls of flex time (while working remotely) vs. office hours (where you actually go into the office).

Flex Time Pros:

increased quality of life because you can do what you want, when you want. You can watch that sports game on TV and work after the game. You can sleep in if you don’t like waking up with the sun. You can work weekends if there are things you need to do and can only do during the weekdays.

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no need to be stuck at the office, counting down the hours. Since you work during the hours you prefer, you’re never really left itching to get out of work to be on time for other engagements, nor are you just trying to beat the clock since your work isn’t based on you being in the office for 40+ hours (although even with an office job, you are never evaluated in this way), it’s based on your output and productivity, so you have to make sure that you are providing value, not just hours.

no more commute or office dress code. You save money and time by not having to make it into an office every day, and you can comfortably work from home, in your PJs and never have to deal with morning or afternoon traffic ever again.

Flex Time Cons:

time may get lost on you. You wake up at noon and cook a late breakfast, read the paper, go to the gym, watch some TV, then it’s late in the afternoon and you haven’t done a thing, so you burn the midnight oil, then wake up mid-afternoon the next day and wonder how this all happened.

you are almost always on a very different schedule from your peers. Therefore, connecting with your friends and family can be hard when you are working on your time and they are working on their time, which is a pretty standard schedule and yours is atypical.

Office Hour Pros:

everyone is working at the same time. So, it’s easy to shoot an email and get immediate feedback, and collaborate without delay. This is especially important if you run into crises with your business and need to communicate with other team members immediately, because it’ll be awful if you have to wait for someone else to wake up from their normal sleep before you can resume what you are working on.

everyone is working in the same place. It’s easy to work with your team members and have a quick power meeting just to go over new things with the business. You also have a ton of other smart people at your disposal to help you with a project you are working on so you can reach your goals.

there is structure, which is good for those who need to have a more ‘definite’ lifestyle. Some people cannot function well if they have to create their own structure, and need external parties to enforce some sense of structure on them.

Office Hour Cons:

you HAVE to be in the office for 40 hours a week, 8 hours a day, for 5 days. Sitting in that chair is boring. Working with the same people might get annoying. Heck, you can’t really have a mid-day siesta and then resume work.

you HAVE to commute. Rush hour traffic is the worst, both in public transportation and when you commute with your vehicle. You could be doing a lot more interesting things with your time than sitting in traffic.

you HAVE to look clean and professional, at least with most office jobs anyways. You can’t just roll out of bed in your undies and sit at your laptop and work.

It depends what type of person you are and how you like to work. Knowing those things can help you in figuring out whether or not flex time is right for you, or if you should be making that trip to the office every day.

For startups, flex time seems to work great, especially since many entrepreneurs still have day jobs and are burning the midnight oil to pay rent and keep the business going.

What type of schedule do you prefer? Have you tried working on flex time?

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