23Sep

Moving with the times: how flexible working can make your business agile


More and more employees expect to take an agile approach to their work-life balance, seeing a traditional five-day 9 to 5 structure as inconvenient and rather old-fashioned.

Since 30 June 2014, any employee with six months of service can request flexible working – flexi-time, working from home, job-sharing, and part-time working – and employers must now weigh up all requests and answer them within three months.

At best, the prospect of managing a number of these contracts is seen as being a bit like herding cats, and at worst a disaster-in-waiting of communication fails and disruption. That’s definitely true if you’re doing it wrong, so here are 5 ways flexible working can work for your business:

It’s a recruitment and retention ‘magic bullet’
When employees are trusted to do their jobs and allowed to work in ways that suit them, it boosts morale, which leads to long-term satisfaction and commitment. Before the government made it available to all, a CIPD survey from 2012 found that 76 per cent of managers used flexible working as a way to keep their talent on board long-term.

It actually reduces disruption…
According to a survey by The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, the average UK employee takes five days a year off sick. Meanwhile, according to their 2012 survey, 56 percent of employers noted a drop in absenteeism after adopting flexible working – not least because it reduces work-related stress.

…while boosting productivity

Imagine how much more you’d enjoy working if you took ownership of your time, but still needed to be visible and accountable. This is the beauty of flexible working: employees will go out of their way to be more visible and available than before. No carrot, no stick, just a way of working that suits their lives – a win-win situation. A recent study by Ipsos MORI found that nearly 50 per cent of employees send more emails and make more calls to demonstrate their out-of-office commitment.

It can help you grow your business
Of course, the bottom line matters. A Regus survey saw more than six in 10 (of nearly 3,000) managers draw a direct link between revenue growth and flexible working. With employees potentially available outside of UK working hours, the scope for responding to overseas clients becomes wider – and your business can grow into a multinational.

Improved communication and culture
A suitable infrastructure – and attitude – is essential to making flexible working, well, work. Remote access must be rock-solid, along with office Wi-Fi that flexible workers and freelancers can plug into straight away. Creating a flexible environment in the main office is important too, with built-in quiet areas that encourage both solitary thought and collaboration, and breakout spaces for relaxation.

How has flexible working benefited your business?

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