The subject of flexible working has probably been the core discussion of meetings in practically every business in the UK at some point in recent years. A more flexible approach to how your team sees the working week has a lot to offer, and while, of course, there are potential issues you should not let this deter you from considering it.
Employees have the right to request flexible working
Firstly, we need to remember that while flexible working is not a right in itself, it is a right for many employees to request it. In short, depending on the circumstances, a qualifying employee can make a reasonable request and, assuming there is no legitimate reason for denying it, the employer is required to consider it. Bearing in mind the potential benefits, many employers are now not only considering flexible working as an option but actively encouraging it. Some of the benefits of flexible working include:
- Increased productivity and less time off among the workforce. One of the fears of allowing flexible working is that workers will be open to more distraction or that some people will see it as an opportunity to ‘take their foot off the throttle’ so to speak. In reality, the opposite seems to be the case, and productivity rises and sickness falls as a result of being allowed a more convenient working schedule. This is likely to be the result of a mixture of factors including the perceived reduction in workplace stress, better eating and hydration due to being home-based, and the contribution to a successful work-life balance. Whatever the reason, it seems that employees with a more flexible schedule work better and take less time off.
- More trust and more responsibility increase employee satisfaction. We all know the benefits of a high level of job satisfaction and the importance of this to employees. Trust and being responsible for your own schedule and output is a big factor in job satisfaction.
- Focused communication and clear responsibilities. While it is certainly very easy for an employee to become isolated when working off-site, as long as you take this into account and build regular support and contact into their working practice, you can turn this potential problem into a boon. Regular, timed interactions result in focused meetings with clear goals and actions.
- Recruiting new team members in a challenging market. Being able to offer flexible working either initially or as an earned possibility over time could be the factor that tips a much-needed employee in your favour.
- Filling the skills gap. For some employees, the 9 to 5 is simply not an option due to other lifestyle pressures. Dependant relatives, childcare and health issues could all be barriers to what would otherwise be a perfect employee. Flexible working could mean having access to a skilled workforce that would otherwise be unavailable.
It’s one of the most requested perks
According to a recent survey, flexible working is one of the most requested perks from many workers, so it is no wonder so many employers are turning to it to encourage better levels of job satisfaction. Not only that, but it could open up a whole new group of potential employees with the skills you need to move your business to the next level.