Flexible working is an alternative to traditional working hours. It involves employees either working from home or other remote locations with minimal supervision or flexible start and finish times.
It can be anything that’s a change from your normal work pattern. Examples include:
A major misconception about flexible working is that most people think it’s only for parents and guardians, this isn’t the case. According to employment law in the UK, all employees have the legal right to request flexible working. To be eligible, they must have worked for the employer for at least 26 weeks.
When you receive a request for flexible working, you’re required to deal with it in a ‘reasonable’ manner. This includes considering the pros and cons, holding a meeting to discuss the request and offering an appeal process.
There’re many reasons why flexible working is good for business. Advantages include:
Reduced absences: When employees have the flexibility to carry out tasks at their own pace, they become motivated. And motivated staff are happier, healthier and experience less stress. All of which means they’re less likely to take time off work due to sickness as a Unison study found.
Increase productivity: Your staff members are all different. While some can work effectively at 9 am in the office, others are more productive working from home at 3 pm. Offering flexibility to choose to work when they’re most productive, ensures you’ll be getting the best from them every day.
Costs: The more people you have in your office, the more you’ll need to spend on office space, equipment, support services and utilities. By implementing a flexible working policy, you’ll be able to increase profits when your staff capitalise on this opportunity.
Staff turnover: With happy employees comes increased satisfaction and with that an increase in your retention levels. Your staff members are less likely to leave an organisation that values them and their wellbeing. By allowing flexible working, you’re ensuring their loyalty to you and the business.
Reputation: This is important for when you’re recruiting new employees. Just as you do your research into potential recruits, they’re doing their research into your organisation. One of the things they’ll be looking at is your company culture. Stand apart from the crowd by having a reputation as an employer that values employees by offering flexible working options.
There’s an increased demand from employees to be able to control where, when and how they work. As well as being able to balance their work and personal lives, other advantages include:
Commuting: This is one of the biggest concerns facing employees. With the increase in the costs of rail tickets last year, train strikes, the costs of petrol and the always-increasing cost of living, it’s no wonder we’ve seen a massive bump in the number of people requesting for flexible or remote working. Without the cost of travelling to work every day your employees can save a considerable amount of money they would have spent on travelling to work.
Reduced work-related stress: While it’s an unavoidable part of life, when left unaddressed it can develop into other worse mental health conditions. By having control over when, how and where they work, they’re able to minimise work-related pressures from deadlines.
Work-life balance: By using various work-life balancing strategies you can eliminate the need to commute to work every day, employees are able to get more time to themselves. They can use this time to catch up with friends and family, focus on their side hustle or just spend it relaxing. A Citrix report found that 40% of office-based employees admitted to turning down job offers that don’t include options for flexible working.
Job satisfaction: The same Citrix survey also found that 42% of employees feel more valued and trusted when their employer allows them to adapt their working hours or location. They’re likely to be more satisfied in their current role when they feel that they’re being listened to and are involved in the business decisions that affect their job.
Childcare costs: As well as the costs of commuting, parents, careers and guardians will see a decrease in the amount they’re spending on childcare. Staff can also ament their working hours to do school pickups and drop-offs.