How to encourage flexible working arrangements
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many people to find new ways of working.
Between working from home and staggered shift patterns, many businesses have found a lifeline in flexible ways of working.
But is it time to consider introducing flexible working in the long run?
What is flexible working?
Flexible working gives employees more control over their work week.
Arrangements can include flexible start and finish times, as well as working from home.
This allows parents and carers to better meet their personal needs, but this flexibility provides benefits to all your employees.
Employee benefits of flexible working
Aside from the obvious opportunities that having more control over your time gives you, flexible working has many benefits. These benefits include:
Better work/life balance
Workers get to choose the hours that best suit their lifestyle, meaning that they can plan their work week around the things they want to do in their free time.
This allows people to better enjoy the time off and can have a positive impact on their productivity when they’re working.
Reduced commuting time and expenses
Flexibility can reduce or even eliminate commuting times and expenses.
The most obvious example of this is for people that work from home, but those that come into the workplace during less common hours can also benefit.
Depending on their mode of transport, they may be able to benefit from off-peak travel or less congested roads.
Reduced associated costs of working
As well as cheaper travel, flexible working can cut the amount that people have to spend to maintain their work life.
This can include childcare costs, buying clothes for work and spending money on lunches.
Business benefits of flexible working
While the employee benefits of flexible working are an important consideration, employers will need convincing before they agree to roll out the scheme to all.
Fortunately, flexible working arrangements have a number of business benefits as well.
Save money on office rent
If even some of your employees choose to take up remote working in the long term, you will be able to reduce the size of office you need.
As well as rent, costs of running the office such as heating, lighting and internet will be reduced.
Even if you pivot to a complete remote workforce, it’s still worthwhile investing in a small office for meetings or any times that your staff need to collaborate on a project. That small occasional office will represent a significant reduction in overheads.
Boost productivity and reduce staff turnover
As employees gain more control over their work life and are able to get more out of their free time, their morale will increase.
This has been proven to result in higher productivity, reduced staff turnover and increased employee happiness.
Reduce absenteeism and lateness
Absenteeism is where employees take regular unplanned absences without good reason. It is a sign that someone is unhappy in their role.
If staff are able to decide their own hours, they are less likely to call in with unplanned absences.
Additionally, for employees that are working from home, occurrences of lateness will decrease as they can skip the commute.
Attract top talent
Being seen as a family-focused company, that puts the employee first will help to attract candidates that might not have previously applied for a role with you.
Making adjustments that let parents spend more time with their children opens up a whole new stream of applicants that could end up staying with you for the long run.
How to manage flexible working arrangement
Another big hurdle for companies to clear before introducing flexible working, is figuring out how they will manage the process.
With many employees starting their work day at different times. As well as little visibility on how home workers are getting on with their day, it can seem that flexible working will be detrimental to productivity.
Having a properly managed process will make sure that there is little downtime when implementing the new working hours and can improve profitability over time.
Create and distribute a flexible working policy
A flexible working policy should clearly state how the new flexibility will work for your staff.
Providing this to all employees that plan on utilising flexible working hours:
●A clear process for submitting requests
●Makes your expectations clear
●Detail any changes to processes for home workers
●Outlines who they should speak to with any questions
When first getting set up for flexible working, you should also offer a timescale for your plans.
Get on top of clocking in reports
When employees work from the office, it’s easy to see when everyone is working. This becomes more difficult with flexible working.
With people on different shift patterns or working from home you need to find a system to keep track of when everyone is available.
Using a cloud-based clocking-in app allows you to keep track of working hours and creates reports to hold staff accountable.
Update employee contracts
Once you have confirmed flexible working agreements with those that want them, you will need to decide on new guidelines for employees to follow.
These rules will vary depending on which method of flexible working you offer and should cover all possible outcomes.
For example, set rules for how often employees can change their working week, how far in advance changes need to be submitted and how shift patterns will be logged.
Any changes to employee contracts will need to be agreed with the individuals, this can be presented as part of the offer of flexible working.