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Flexible Working

Flexible working is a term that strikes fear in many employers. June 2014 saw flexible working rights extended to all employees not just parents. This means that any employee (provided they are eligible) can make a formal or informal request to change their working pattern.

There is a common misconception that flexible working means reduced hours or part time work. This is not always the case. Flexible working is more commonly seen as; staggered hours, compressed hours, term time working or splitting hours between working from home and the office.

Flexible working aims to help employees balance their work life commitments and is linked to increased employee retention and maintaining successful long term employee/ employer relationships.

We are seeing an increase in the number of employees who are making requests to work flexible hours rather than the more standard 9-5. Flexible working is becoming more and more popular to all employees not just the female members of staff or those with children.  

Many fear the negative impact flexible working will have on their business but do not consider the incentives of allowing employees to vary their hours. Government statistics predicted the “benefits to business… to come in at £55.8 million – outweighing the £39.8 million cost to firms.”

Flexible working does not just mean different working arrangements, it also means happier staff who are more likely to be more productive when they are working – wherever and whenever that may be. It is all about finding a working pattern which is suitable for both employer and employee. If employees are allowed to vary their working arrangements to fit in their studies, hobbies or the school run, this makes them feel more valued and motivated. Reports from the Government suggested that “40% [of businesses are] reporting a boost in productivity and 38% seeing a drop in staff absence” when more flexible working practices are adopted.

Although flexible working is becoming more popular many still feel that having face time in the office makes you a better or harder worker. Andrew Sutherland, Senior Research of ACAS thinks that the “traditional managerial attitudes about employees needing to be seen to be considered productive have long been found by research to be the greatest barrier to homeworking success.”  This will change, and employers need to be ready for it.

Flexible working has the ability to bring a number of benefits to a business but should be considered carefully. If you need guidance on how to make or deal with a flexible working request get in touch with one of the team or register for our webinar to learn more.