Supporting Flexible Working

Flexible working is fast becoming the norm, thanks to improvements in technology, and a need for flexibility from both employees who want a better work/life balance, and businesses that need to meet customer demands around the clock.

Many business owners worry about whether they can accommodate flexible working, especially in small businesses that might not have the capacity or flexibility to do so, but if flexible working is included in your business strategy, it can have real benefits.

Examples of flexible working

There are many different flexible working options to consider, so whatever size your business is, you can find the arrangement that suits you and your employees. The most popular types of flexible working are part-time working, flexitime, job-sharing, remote working, compressed hours, staggered hours, and annualised hours.

The benefits that flexible working can bring

The benefits for employees

  • Better work life balance
  • Increased job satisfaction
  • Improved motivation and morale
  • Less stress and anxiety

Business benefits

  • Flexible working opportunities are more attractive to potential employees and they encourage good employees to stay with your business
  • Employees are more focused when they have a better balance between work and personal responsibilities. This means they’re more productive which is better for your bottom line
  • There are less costs relating to absence, sick leave, and lateness
  • Flexible working makes your business more flexible and more responsive, for example, having a customer service department that is open outside of office hours is very attractive to customers. You can also change shift patterns/staff working hours to meet demand at busier or quieter time of the year

How to make flexible working work for your business

  • Use it for the benefit of your business. Flexible working doesn’t just have to benefit employees, you can use it to achieve business goals. For example, if you want one of your best employees to work on a project but you know that they have a lot of family commitments, could allowing them to work from home a few days per week mean that they’ll be able to focus fully on the project instead of being stuck in the office and worrying about what’s going on at home?
  • Make it clear that even though you’re an advocate of flexible working, you still expect an employee’s work to be of the same standard. Set ground rules about when you expect them to check in with you, and always agree deadlines for work. This reduces the chance of flexible working having a negative impact on the business.
  • Advocate collaborative working. Even if you do allow some employees to work from home on set days each week, make it clear that you’ll need them in the office sometimes. Make sure they use their time in the office to work jointly on tasks with the rest of the team. This will have the added benefit of helping flexible employees maintain a sense of connection with colleagues.

Ask yourself regularly if flexible working works for the business and employees. You must monitor how effective flexible working is, and if it’s not working, changes must be made and communicated to everyone.

Maureen O’Callaghan is a Member of the Chartered Management Institute and has an MSc in Mindfulness-Based Approaches. She works with organisations, teams, and individuals to create less stressful working environments, improve team working, enhance performance and productivity and develop leadership and management skills.  For more information visit www.mocallaghan.co.uk or e mail maureen@mocallaghan.co.uk