The Agile Working Event 2017 Event Partner, hfx, looks at the hidden benefits of flexible working.
You may be more flexible than you think
Flexible working has always been considered the preserve of public sector organisations, but increasingly it offers benefits for companies competing in the commercial marketplace – both for staff and for employers.
The term flexible working does not just mean the rigid structure of flexi-time, managed with a Time and Attendance or clocking in system. In fact your company may already be operating a type of flexible working, allowing staff to come in earlier or later to manage childcare, avoid rush hour traffic or save money on commuting costs.
With technology advances and the ability to access work networks and files remotely you may also have a flexible policy around staff working from home, again reducing their travel and costs and enabling them to fit work in around family commitments.
So, while you may think that the headline of flexible working is not something your company can offer, in fact it may already be your modus operandi.
Attracting and retaining top talent
Flexible working is no longer just a benefit that perhaps historically female staff may have requested to juggle work around family commitments. Today it is for everyone and can form the basis of your HR policy.
A company that adopts a flexible hours policy may find that it can attract high calibre individuals, but perhaps for a lesser salary than that offered by competitors. For some people they may have reached a time in their career where they have different priorities – maybe with a young family or wishing to pursue further study – the opportunity to have more free time, with a shorter commute or flexible working hours, may be preferable to a higher salary and a position in a company located in a city centre.
This can present a win-win – the company employs the best person for the job without breaking the budget, while the individual finds the life/work balance opportunity attractive.
Getting ready for Brexit
The uncertainty around Brexit also presents many questions around employment and the workforce. Will we see top talent leaving to work in Europe, or find it increasingly difficult to attract the right staff for roles in the UK? Either way, companies may find themselves challenged to entice and retain top talent.
It may not be possible to tackle this issue by simply increasing salaries. Unrealistic from a purely financial angle, it may also not be the only motivator on the employee side.
Companies will need to be more imaginative in their recruitment approach. Duvet days, great canteen and recreation facilities, maybe a pool table or an in-house gym, these can all be attractive benefits. Add to this mix a flexible approach to working hours and the company is likely to attract a committed staff and even find itself ranked as one of the ‘best places to work’.
Productivity over presenteeism
While these benefits may seem to be a cost, in fact with motivated staff, productivity will be higher. How much more focused is an employee when they know that if they finish their work within a deadline they can leave the office, rather than having to work up until a set time?
Or perhaps they might find that they have dealt with the necessary emails and calls and have a window of a few hours when they can travel home, to pick up replies later in the day. It enables an employee to have a career, while maybe balancing the care of children or looking after an elderly relative. The premise of this type of flexible working is that the work gets done, but at a time that suits the individual.
Even for businesses with customer facing roles the new flexible working can bring benefits. Modern technology can support remote working and flexible schedules to meet different working hours.
Today the working day is not black and white, 9 to 5, but flexible to meet the requirements of the job and the individual. The results? The culture of ‘presenteeism’ is no longer – replaced instead by a motivated, productive workforce that gets the job done.
There is no doubt that flexible working has many different facets and can bring benefits to employers and employees. If you haven’t already considered it, maybe now is the time.