First of all, we get it. Not all jobs are suited to remote working, or flexible hours. But where that’s possible, a degree of professional autonomy can go a really long way.
The benefits of flexible working
- The ability to be flexible in hours worked is more likely to attract great staff, and will give you an edge over firms.
- It means a better work/life balance and improved employee wellbeing, as well as availability for clients.
- Staff who work from home take up less space in the office, which in turn means reduced overheads.
- A boost in productivity – a survey by YouGov revealed that 89% of British workers agree that flexible working improves their productivity levels.
- Benefits for your bottom line – 61% of those surveyed in a study by Vodafone reported a positive impact on profit & loss as a result of flexible working.
The rules and regulations
Flexible working has become such a significant part of work and employment today that it is now actually covered by EU law.
Legally, employees who have worked for a company for more than 26 weeks now have the right to request flexible working permissions. One request can be made per year by an employee, and the employer must provide a decision within a period of three months.
If the employee is requesting flexible working on account of feeling disadvantaged due to age, gender, race, disability, religion, belief or sexual orientation then they must let this be known. Other than that, they are under no obligation to give justification for their request.
Should an employer want to reject the request, they must provide a ‘second business’ reason. This could be a cost to the company or an inability to redistribute the workload, for example.
If formal or long-term flexible working agreements are made, this must be officially reflected in a legal amendment to the employee’s contract. If the company decides that informal flexible working is the best way forward, the dos and don’ts are down to the manger or business owner’s discretion.
Working with flexible working
Some business owners and employers are still anxious about implementing flexible working as they fear it may cause a dip in staff engagement and control. This is where trust comes into play. Employers need to trust their employees to be responsible for themselves and managing their own workloads.
It’s not just about the element of trust though. It’s also about keeping communication in check as staff become more mobile and geographically dispersed.
- Take advantage of video conferencing such as Skype to stay in touch digitally.
- Encourage all staff to be in the office for important company or departmental meetings.
- Use cloud technology and file sharing such as Google Docs so that information can be easily accessed by all, regardless of location.
- Set out clear targets and deadlines which are communicated both verbally and in writing to provide the same structure and management that staff would experience in the office.
Do you have any of your own advice on the topic? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!