Is flexible work the future of employment?
Offering flexible working hours and contracts is all the rage at the moment across many industries. This can come in various forms including job sharing (two individuals fulfilling the equivalent one full brief) or flexitime where employees can fit their working hours around core times and changing working hours (this can be to fit around children or other care responsibilities).
It’s not just better for the employee, there are great benefits for employers too! The CIPD has reported 76% of managers have cited employee retention as a key benefit of allowing flexible working. Productivity can improve as well, as properly rested and engaged employees take less sick days due to their more balanced lifestyle. Furthermore, there’s evidence to suggest flexible workers are happier and more loyal. It can have a positive effect on recruitment too, with candidates vastly preferring companies that offer flexible working to ones that don’t. Plus, you might be able to extend your opening hours for potential customers to contact your business!
But how can you go about offering flexible employment to your own employees, while also ensuring your business continues to run smoothly? Here are some tips for implementing flexible working in your business:
Ensure you're complying with regulations Due to the unique nature of flexible working, there are specific regulations that must be followed. Only certain employees are entitled to flexible working, but further allowances are made for parental leave. If you employ anyone through an agency, they are not eligible for flexible working. It is absolutely key that you follow all employment laws to the tee, so be sure to review the relevant information at https://www.gov.uk/flexible-working
Offer a range of solutions Not all forms of flexible working are going to work for every employee, so be sure to recommend or offer many different forms of flexible working solutions to your various employees. Perhaps a working mother may need something based around school hours, or someone with a disability may need more time to work from home. Ask your employees what their needs are and try and design solutions that work for everyone.
If you have doubts about a solution, then suggest a trial period Despite the attempts to popularise this form of work by the government and its growing deployment across industries, not every flexible working option is viable for a business, particularly growing SMEs. Suggesting a trial period of a week or two can show your employees that you’re taking their request seriously and get insights for how to best employ flexible working as your business grows. If the trial does not work, you can suggest alternative options that work for both of you.
Ensure the work is getting done
Just because someone is working from home doesn’t mean that they are laying on the sofa watching TV and not working. However, it is important to ensure that the flexibility and trust being provided by an employer who is offering flexible working isn’t taken advantage of. The best way to do this is not to make employees clock in and clock but instead set targets and ask to see certain pieces of work, or for updates to be circulated around the team. This isn’t to keep an eye on the employee but ensures that work is being done and at the same time keeps everyone in the loop of what is going on even when people are missing from the office.
Make it work for you too! If you need some more help around the office, but can’t afford an entirely new role, offering a flexible role may be a way of fulfilling your needs without paying an entirely new salary. Think about your needs and what kind of working pattern could make it work best. Alternatively, you could make use of flexible outsourced work such as the services offered by minc for finance, HR and many other important functions. Find out more here.