Flexible working patterns are essential for engaging with today’s top talent while protecting employee wellbeing and boosting productivity levels.
What is flexible working?
Flexible working is a way of ensuring that an employee’s needs are considered. It can sometimes cross over with concepts like hybrid working or remote working – and a flexible working practice might likely include elements of both of those – but at its heart, flexible working is about creating the best experience for employees.
This can help companies boost productivity and improve their bottom lines.
What does flexible working look like?
There are lots of different ways that flexible working can play out. It may be something as simple as letting employees adjust their start or end times or looking into job-sharing opportunities. A few common flexible working practices include:
- Working from home: Giving employees the freedom to work from home or attend the office.
- Job sharing or part-time hours: Allowing employees to continue doing the job they love on a part-time basis, whether through a job share or simply reducing hours.
- Flexitime or staggered hours: Creating a way for employees to manage commitments outside of work, while still expecting them to be present for core periods of time.
- Compressed hours: Employees working compressed hours will work their total contracted hours over fewer working days. For example, some companies may choose to offer a 9-day fortnight to their employees.
- Embracing a 4-day week: Some companies are embracing enhanced flexibility with a four-day work week without the pressure to complete 40 hours of work within four days. This can give you a real competitive advantage as it’s an incredibly compelling employee benefit.
How the pandemic impacted flexible working habits
While the concept of flexible working has been around for a long time, the pandemic brought many aspects into sharp focus. The need to embrace remote working where possible showed many employees a different option for their day-to-day.
The 2022 Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) found that 8 in 10 workers who worked from home during the coronavirus pandemic said they planned to work hybrid in the future.
Another driver of change was that many people also had to navigate increased caring duties during the pandemic due to school closures to illness. Many companies changed their ways of doing things for compassionate reasons – and saw the upsides of doing so.
Research from Cranfield School of Management and CBI Economics discovered that most organisations were more flexible post-pandemic, with 96% offering more freedom around where their employees worked and 87% being more flexible about scheduling their working hours.
Struggling to make the most of flexible working? Check out our webinar on ‘The Success Formula for Hybrid Work’ with Tom Kegode!
Tap into the benefits of flexible working patterns
Wondering how flexible work might make a difference in your organisation? Here are just a few of the big benefits:
Offering flexibility is excellent for retention, especially if it has been trialled during the pandemic. According to Gallup, 3 in 10 employees working remotely said they were highly likely to seek another job if their company eliminated remote work.
Allowing employees to use time in the way that best suits their needs inside and outside the office can reap great rewards. Hybrid working can cut down on commutes, and the flexibility to work at a time that best suits someone’s personal life can make them more productive.
The more you can tailor the working experience to someone’s needs, the more likely they are to feel engaged with and loyal to a workplace. Small changes on your part can make a big difference to your team’s wellbeing, help foster a healthier work-life balance and avoid employee burnout.
Trust and loyalty
Offering employees extra freedom and flexibility can feel like a bold move – there’s a certain amount of trust involved – but placing that trust in them can have some really positive effects, especially regarding autonomy, loyalty and self-management.
Why you should create a flexible work policy
It’s one thing to be open to the idea of flexible working in concept and another entirely to make it something that could truly benefit your team and your organisation.
To maintain an effective flexible work policy, you must have the written policy located somewhere employees can easily access it and ensure it’s easily understood by staff. The document should include a definition of the policy so employees can fully understand the flexibility, who is eligible to use the flexible work schedule and general provisions.
You should also consider trialling or piloting a flexible program to get an exact idea of how it will function and how managers will need to be trained.
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