On 5 December 2022, the government announced that the right to request flexible working will be extended to all employees, from day one of employment. The new law is part of a package of measures to be introduced by the government and ensures that flexible working is no longer just an on going trend, it is very much here to stay.
Predominantly influenced by the Covid pandemic there was a huge shift in the way we worked, with an estimated half to two-thirds of workers working from home at some point during lockdown. It showed that flexibility was in fact possible in many more industries than we thought, and worked extremely successfully for most. We often focus on the obvious benefits for employees but flexible working and the advantages for employers can be tenfold.
What is flexible working?
Flexible working is an arrangement between employers and employees which gives workers a degree of freedom as to where, when and how they work and can include the following:-
- Part-time working: This is when an employee’s working hours are anything less than the company’s standard full-time contract.
- Job shares: When two or more people share a role and work as if they were one employee .
- Term-time working: This allows employees to take paid or unpaid leave during school holidays, perfect for working parents.
- Flexitime: This allows a degree of flexibility as to when staff start and finish their working day. For example, they could choose to work 8-4, or 10-6 instead of the standard 9-5.
- Compressed hours: When someone works full-time hours over a shorter period, for example doing four longer days to make a four day week.
- Remote working: Where staff usually work from home.
- Hybrid working: This is when staff who have traditionally worked in the office for all of their contracted hours, request to work a proportion of hours at home and a proportion in the office.
The benefits of flexible working for employers can include:-
By implementing flexible working, you can review your costs and realise you can make significant savings by allowing for a scaling back of office space and therefore a decrease in expenditure on overheads including utilities, furniture and IT requirements. For start up companies this could be a huge bonus.
Reduced level of sickness
It is well known that sickness absences cost the industry millions of pounds a year but this can improve greatly with flexible working. A happier workforce is more productive with greater job satisfaction, less sickness absence and better mental health benefits which make employees feel valued and helps with their work/life balance, resulting in less sickness days taken.
With a better work-life balance comes increased productivity as many remote workers are more effective than in traditional office settings with constant distractions and interruptions. Studies have shown significant improvements in productivity and morale when employees are given the option to work according to their own schedule and by scheduling their work around the hours they’re most productive, employees can execute tasks more effectively and produce higher quality work.
Attract top talent
Flexible working environments often have the ability to attract a higher level of skills because the business is able to attract and retain a skilled and more diverse workforce. Also, recruitment costs are reduced and retainment figures are high.
Greater business flexibility
Often employees are grateful for flexible working options to help them with the general demands of life and often in return, employees can assist their employer by undertaking out-of-hours meetings or turn around work say at weekends/take the on-call phone etc to return the favour to their employer, providing a better quality and access to services for customers and clients.
Increased morale and engagement – Positive Culture
Happy and motivated employees who feel supported in their work, usually create a positive and engaged workforce culture By supporting flexible working requests where your business can, also improves the general attitude of the workforce and support your ambitions to be an Employer of Choice.,
How do you manage flexible working?
Communication, training and of course technology will remain high on your list to offer flexibility to your employees. Although there may be some challenges when initially implementing these, the benefits far outweigh any teething problems that businesses may experience, and will further support an engaged and productive workforce. With the phenomenon of the Great Resignation recently, we know that many staff have quite their traditional roles once post pandemic normality resumed, in a bid to find more flexible working arrangements – so offering alternatives can significantly reduce turnover of your skilled and committed staff that you might not be able to afford to lose.
For further information on flexible working and the advantages to employers or any other HR issues please contact us here.