Working time flexibilisation

Finding the right flexibility for working time models

Globalisation and digitalisation influence the way of thinking, work processes, services and production in all companies. Only the view on the resource personnel often remains unchanged. Companies stick to traditional working time models and rigid shift models and deployment scenarios. The variety of new possibilities for making work models more flexible in order to keep up with changing market and working conditions remains unused.

This discrepancy between modern companies and conventional working time organisation is particularly visible in production companies. Often, partly fully automated production plants for customer-specific production are contrasted with one-dimensional, manually created shift schedules. In times of a shortage of skilled workers, however, not only fluctuating requirements must be taken into account, but also the wishes and needs of employees for more flexibility. For example, more and more employees are foregoing higher salaries and would like to have more free time or a location-independent workplace in return. Accordingly, there is a clear trend away from fixed working hours and workplaces towards modern, flexible working models.

The three levers to flexible working models

There are three aspects or levers to making work models more flexible. For example, working models differ in their flexibility in terms of space, time and subject matter. A combination of the three levers makes it possible to compensate for fluctuations and volatility, ensure employee satisfaction and guarantee cost efficiency.

Spatial flexibility: When the location is not important

More and more people working in Germany have to be mobile for professional reasons - whether as commuters or when travelling to customers, meetings or trade fairs. Some of this work-related travel is unavoidable and remains a necessity. However, another part can be avoided by working models in which employees are not tied to a specific workplace but can work from home or via desk sharing. Technology promotes and simplifies location-independent working, for example through virtual teams, cloud solutions and video conferencing.

Time flexibility: When demand determines working time

Every company strives to react quickly and efficiently to short-term or unforeseeable fluctuations in demand. However, across all sectors, most companies continue to rely on rigid working time models which, if they are not fully utilized, lead to overstaffing and thus to unproductivity and inefficiency. By contrast, understaffing occurs when there is greater demand, which is usually compensated for by overtime. In some cases, enormous wage mark-ups and overburdening of employees are accepted.

Fluctuating needs require greater flexibility. Annual working time accounts are a good way of allowing employees to "build up" hours during peak demand periods and then to "celebrate" this credit when the workload is lower. With the alternative option "work on call", employees hold themselves ready for a possible shift. If there is no need, they receive a certain percentage of their fixed salary for being on call. This means that any work that arises is done as needed instead of at rigidly fixed times.

Professional flexibility: When everyone can do everything

Personnel flexibility is achieved not only through working time related measures, but also mainly through interdepartmental and cross-departmental employee deployment. This enables employees to change their job or activity at very short notice. This is only possible through multiple qualifications. Employees learn important additional skills that make them fit for other machines, workplaces and departmental structures. This enables flexible staffing of workplaces. Different employees with the required qualifications are available for different tasks, so that capacity bottlenecks can be compensated across departments. An integrated workforce management solution helps you manage qualifications and creates cross-departmental transparency.

Three steps to flexible employee deployment

If all the requirements of a work model are successfully covered, the foundations are laid for a needs-based and sustainable deployment of employees. This is also to the advantage of the employees: they now have the opportunity to adapt their working methods to their personal habits and their current situation in life. And with a healthy work-life balance, they are demonstrably more satisfied, more productive and are less likely to drop out.

The following three steps point the way to sustainable and flexible employee deployment.

  1. The first step is to analyse the status quo. The main focus is on the requirements of your business model and your employees. In addition, a comparison is made with current possibilities and restrictions, for example through company agreements and collective bargaining agreements.
  2. In the second step, based on the analysis, the optimal mix of the three levers for flexibilization is developed and implemented for your company.
  3. Since the introduction of new working models usually changes the corporate culture noticeably and is associated with changes for many employees, the process should be accompanied by a qualified and individually tailored change management.

More flexible working hours made to measure

Let ATOSS Consulting advise you. Our consultants can draw on over 30 years of experience and the know-how gained from around 10,000 projects. We will be pleased to support you with a consulting concept tailored to your needs in order to make the flexibilization of working hours a success in your company as well.


Michael Knoblauch


Are you looking for expert consultation? I would be pleased to help.

Michael Knoblauch
Director ATOSS Consulting

T +49 89 42771345