What if I told you, as an employer, you could increase employee morale, engagement, and commitment to the organisation, as well as decrease absenteeism and tardiness, all by making just one change to your business? Well, it might surprise you to know that these are all benefits of flexible working.
It’s no secret that flexible working has really taken off in the last few years. More and more workplaces have taken flexible working on board, and with employees who have worked at a company for more than 26 weeks able to officially request flexible working1, there’s only room for it to grow.
But before you decide whether or not your business would benefit from flexible working, let’s take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages.
What are the benefits of Flexible Working?
The first advantage I’d like to talk about is one that may surprise you… Companies that offer flexible working are better able to hire and retain more diverse and talented staff. There are many reasons why the perfect person may not be able to join your team – they could live too far away and not be up for the commute, have young children who they need to be more flexible around, or they could be a carer for someone in their life.
Another advantage is that staff with more flexibility are more productive. Everybody is different, for example, some people are early birds while others are night owls, and we all get our boosts of energy at various times of the day. With flexible working, your staff are free to work when they are most productive, and that means that you’re getting the very best out of all your people.
Furthermore, it also reduces the time your employees spend commuting, which has been shown to contribute towards stress and depression2. If they work from home or tweak their hours of working to non-peak times, they aren’t going to be part of the dreaded rush hour traffic, meaning your employees have more time in their day and essentially get more done. The added benefit of this is that there will be less traffic on the roads at peak time.
Finally, employees value an employer that allows them to work flexibly. They see it as a sign of trust and feel more valued, less constrained, and respected. Flexible workers can feel even more in control of their work life, and in control of their time.
Are there any drawbacks to Flexible Working?
Now, like most things, there are two sides of the coin. Let’s discuss some of the disadvantages of flexible working. The first major concern for employers is whether or not they can trust their staff to work, especially when they’re not visible to see. What’s to say that your employees aren’t just watching Netflix or doing household jobs while occasionally replying to the odd email? It’s a perfectly natural concern, but the key to trust is hiring the right people who you know will do the right thing.
Another big disadvantage of flexible working comes in the form of what impact it might have on more office-based employees. Some people prefer the structure of an office and working day, but there is a risk that they become resentful of those working flexibly, or see them as slackers because they don’t see the work that they do. Tackling this problem can be tricky, but the key to any well-connected team – no matter where they are based – is communication, and there are plenty of tools available to ensure people are digitally visible to each other.
Finally, flexible working can be a nightmare to organise. As I mentioned above, not all of your employees will be able to work flexibly, so you will first be tasked with figuring out who those employees are. Then you’ll have to work out what kind of flexible working policies your company will adopt when people will need to physically present, and how it will all work. If your employees work in teams, how and when will these teams meet to ensure they’re on track?
Lastly, many employers don’t feel comfortable with not knowing what hours their employees are working and when they’ll see them next, which is a psychological barrier they will have to overcome if they hope to one day have a more flexible workplace.
So what’s the verdict?
In conclusion, not every company will benefit from flexible working, but those that decide to try it may soon see that the benefits far outweigh the cons as a result of a happier, more engaged and valued workforce. If you’re on the fence about whether or not flexible working is something you’d like to introduce, you can look at real world examples in the form of Google and Netflix, with the latter for example allowing employees to take holiday time whenever they want. The best way to decide, is simply to ask your employees what they want because, after all, they’re the ones it will affect most.
1 All UK employees are now entitled to request flexible working if they’ve been with a business for 26 weeks or more.
2 Commuting and the link to stress | https://www.standard.co.uk/news/health/long-commutes-lead-to-stress-and-depression-study-finds-a3544846.html
This month’s blog was written by our Digital Marketing Apprentice, Ryan. Ryan joined us back in December and has been learning all about Digital Marketing and Social Media since. Ryan tells us he “enjoys the creative side of his job most”, well Ryan, I hope you enjoyed writing this blog as much as we enjoyed reading it!