How Flexible Working Could Help You

An increasing number of businesses are now moving towards offering flexible working options to their staff. Although it may not be suitable for every employee of every business, there are plenty of advantages to offering flexible working to staff members.

What is Flexible Working?

The term flexible working refers to policies which give workers more freedom about when and where they work. This may give people the opportunity to do their work outside of the office or outside of the standard 9 - 5 shift pattern. Flexible working has developed because companies have realised that standard working patterns do not meet everyone's needs.

Why Flexible Working could Benefit Your Business

Flexible working patterns can allow you to recruit and retain the best staff. Giving employees more freedom will allow you to match their needs better. Rigid working patterns can exclude some people from the workforce, for example, those who have to care for children or other dependents. Allowing these people to work more flexibly can allow them to continue to work for you when they may previously have been forced to quit. It may also give couples the chance to share their childcare responsibilities more evenly.

Providing your staff with these opportunities can also help to increase staff loyalty amongst your employees. Reducing staff turnover can help to reduce the amount of time and resources that your business needs to spend on recruiting and training new members of staff. It will also give you more opportunities to grow and develop the skills of existing staff members. Developing a positive buzz around your workplace will help you to attract the best staff to your company during any future recruitment campaigns.

Flexible working can also give you the opportunity to reduce your overhead costs. Flexible working patterns can mean that hotdesking is a more feasible option. Rather than having a fixed desk space for all staff members, staff members are able to sit anywhere based on availability. This can reduce the amount of desk space that is needed for the company. It can also help to cut electricity and IT costs. These savings can then be put back into other areas of the business.

Allowing workers to start work outside of the standard 9 - 5 working pattern can help to alleviate some of the stresses faced by regular commuters. Starting or finishing work just one hour earlier or later than the majority of other workers in the area can vastly reduce the time taken to commute. Starting work at 10.30 and finishing at 6.30PM can mean that you miss the rush hour altogether. This is because it reduces the pressure on the infrastructure of the area. Giving employees the chance to work from home (even just one day a week) can reduce the pressures on local infrastructure even further. Making the commute more manageable for your employees can help to improve their mental and physical health, as well as helping them to feel more refreshed as they begin the working day.

In addition to the physiological positives associated with avoiding the traditional commute, you are also likely to reduce instances of lateness and absenteeism amongst your staff members. Reducing lateness and absenteeism can help your company to work more effectively and efficiently. Mobile working patterns that are enabled by flexible working policies mean that workers are able to work from a variety of different locations; from their home to a hotel room, to a local coffee shop. This can help to reduce the effects of travel time and may mean that employees are able to follow up on the outcome of their meetings more quickly. Working in this way can mean that opportunities are realised more easily.

Allowing your staff to adopt flexible working patterns can also help them to feel as though they have more control in their role. A lack control is one of the most frequent complaints from employees in employee surveys, and flexible working can help to reduce these complaint levels. Giving employees more control can help them to develop their initiative and will allow them more scope to develop their own ways of efficient working.

Of course, flexible working is not suitable for everyone because some employees will need too much supervision or they may try to abuse the system. If you are worried about allowing some of your employees more freedom, you can build up their flexibility over time if they are able to prove themselves. Regular team meetings and line meetings with employees will allow them to touch base. These meeting also help to give them the encouragement that they need to continue to match targets. You should always set clear boundaries around flexible working so that all of your employees understand that the business need comes first, and that flexibility cannot be allowed in circumstances that will adversely affect the running of the business.