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Operations

Benefits of flexible working

Melissa Jones  |  09 November, 2017

Gone are the days of 9-5, Monday to Friday, with no deviation from the norm. 

With an increasingly mobile and agile workforce, more employees are asking for flexible working patterns than ever before.

Part-time working, job sharing, early finishes, late starts, working from home, working in a café, hot desking and picking your own hours – the list of options keeps on growing.

Thanks to clever HR software and advances in technology, flexible working is also now easy to manage. Video conferencing, documents in the cloud and readily available mobile wifi mean it’s not always necessary for staff to be physically present in an office.

It’s great news for your employees, but can flexible working be good for employers too?

The answer is a resounding yes! 

Advantages for employers

Happy workers make productive workers which means you can enjoy greater growth and a healthier bottom line. Flexible working is a great way to achieve this because it shows you care about your staff’s wellbeing and needs.

Not only can it create a positive employer brand for you it also helps empower staff and invest more in your organisation by giving them the autonomy to do their jobs properly.

Offering flexible working when you’re recruiting can also increase the number of potential candidates – some of those might be exceptionally talented and a real asset to your organisation but might not have applied if flexible working wasn’t on offer. 

It’s not just recruitment flexible working is good for – it can help staff retention too. As well as creating an overall impression that you’re a fair and flexible employer, it can also be used to keep talented existing staff whose personal circumstances might have changed and would leave if they couldn’t move to a more flexible working pattern.

Advantages for employees

Employees benefit from flexible working because it allows them to fit in their family and personal commitments. For example, an employee who has to start caring for an elderly parent could still carry out their job effectively working from home two days a week allowing them to shoulder both private and work responsibilities successfully.

It also gives employees greater control over their own working schedule and can help reduce commute times. Recent train strikes have been a nightmare for workers commuting to London but being able to work remotely has meant work can still be done.

Disadvantages 

It would be nice to say flexible working was perfect in every way but as with all business policies it does have its drawbacks for both employers and employees. 

As an employer or manager, you might find certain members of staff take advantage of flexible working a little too much – slacking off or heading out with friends when they should be working for you. Flexible working isn’t great for customer-facing roles either such as for staff working in a shop or assistants in a nursing home. It can also make it much harder to make sure your company’s processes are still carried out as they should be.

It’s not always the best idea for staff motivation and moral – work remotely means they might miss out on office culture and therefore not work so well as part of your team. Flexible working also impacts on home life, blurring the lines between work and personal. If they are constantly checking emails or answering calls regardless what time it is there is a real risk of them feeling like they can’t ever switch off. 

Is it for my business?

Flexible working is the way forward but how much you incorporate it depends largely on the type of business you run. If you need employees to be hands on and physically present to carry out their job, then it can be trickier to implement. However, if they can work remotely and still get the work done, then it’s important to consider it as part of any package you offer to staff.

Research has shown staff often value work/life balance more than they do remuneration so if you can offer flexibility you’ll be opening yourself up to a greater and more diverse talent pool, increased productivity and happier, more engaged staff.

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