Flexible working is an initiative that involves employers giving employees more freedom over when and where they complete their working hours. Whilst working from home is not a new concept, the idea of prioritising the employees' needs over the rigidity of traditional 9-5 hours in offices is contemporary. So many people have seen the benefits of flexible working, so perhaps it will become the new normal. Let’s take a look at the benefits of flexible working, the impact of Covid-19 on traditional working patterns and finally what the future might look like for flexible working.
Benefits of Flexible Working
Giving employees freedom over when they choose to work from home or in the office, and when they work their contracted hours, can make people’s lives so much easier.
- Parents can get their kids ready for school, drop them off at 9 and be able to settle down and focus in peace after that. Then, they could pick them up at 3, enjoy the afternoon and evening with them and do a couple more hours of work after they’ve gone to bed at 7.
- Or, perhaps someone is afraid of applying for their dream job as it is too far to commute every day. Flexible working would provide the opportunity for someone to work from home 3 or 4 days a week and commute for the other 1 or 2 to ensure that they maintain a healthy work-life balance.
- For someone who struggles with anxiety or mental health issues, saving time in the morning and evening by not having to commute everyday can leave more time to focus on the self and prepare for the day in a calm and relaxed environment.
The benefits differ for everyone, yet in the future, it seems it will be important that companies are able to facilitate flexible working to get the best out of their teams and run a successful business.
Impact of Covid-19
As a result of the pandemic, workers from all over the world were forced to retreat from offices and work from home to prevent the spread of the virus. Whilst some people struggled to adjust to working in their home environment, others massively reaped the benefits.
The short-term impact of the pandemic means that it is not yet safe to have offices as full as they were previously. However, the outstandingly positive response to working from home is suggestive of the fact that offices that are full to the brim won’t be common in the long run.
Many workers may feel ready to get back into the office and enjoy the working environment they haven’t been able to access for months, but that’s the beauty of flexible working. Staff will be able to get the best of both worlds if companies welcome flexibility.
What The Future Will Look Like
The future of the workplace is likely to look very different, as significant changes have already been implemented. For example, rather than physical auctions being reinstated as the infection rate dropped, virtual commercial property auctions have been favoured and it looks like this is not something that is going to change in a post-COVID-19 world.
Additionally, consumer habits have changed dramatically, meaning more businesses are likely to rely on e-commerce rather than having physical shop fronts. As shoppers reap the benefits of shopping from their sofa, business will need to adapt quickly in order to stay above the water. This will give the retail industry more of an opportunity to offer flexible working.
In terms of what office life will look like, flexible office spaces are likely to boom. Multiple companies can rent a shared space that staff can dip in and out of when necessary. The rent is cheaper for employers and companies who offer these spaces usually include fantastic amenities, meaning staff will love it.
After an unwanted and dramatic shift to working life, people are beginning to see the benefits of having flexibility when it comes to work. The response so far suggests that flexible working could be the future of our working lives.