Flexible working has long been a ‘thing’, but never before has it had such a voice!
Two recent movements by working mums (and non-mums) advocate, Digital Mums, are calling on businesses and individuals everywhere to show their support for flexible working. #workthatworks – and the more recent #cleanuptheFword – are real reminders that flexible working is something we could all benefit from.
And as Digital Mums points out, with 7 out of 10 workers wanting to work flexibly, but only 12 per cent ever having asked for it, it looks like these campaigns can only serve to help employees with their busy lifestyles of today, whilst also allowing their employers to keep overhead costs down.
Why work flexibly?
It gives the individual the ability to balance when, how and where they work, with the other things in their life- which can include children, pets, parents, grandchildren, medical conditions or just a hobby.
That is great for the employee, but what about the employer? Flexible working means that businesses can often get access to a wealth of knowledge and experience for a reduced cost- a high calibre candidate working part-time, can be more valuable than someone full-time with less experience. Also, giving people control, means generally they will be more committed and happier, and it is now fairly well documented that happy employees are more productive.
The opportunities are endless
Technology continues to give us the ability to work from anywhere that there is a 4G signal or wifi connection, which means for startup businesses there is often no need to set up an office, employers can avoid paying high rents for often fairly uninspiring office space. Instead they can make the most of the amazing co-working spaces that keep popping up like No1 Business Centre.
The Telegraph published a recent article on the benefits of sharing office space. Co-working spaces can be a great opportunity to find others in your field, and possibly create some business relationships. You’re likely to find other like-minded people who are keen to make the most of networking opportunities.
Entrepreneur Claire Storey recently co-founded The Workplace, a flexible co-working space in Cheltenham. She says, “With so many people now working flexibly from home, we are striving to create an inspirational workspace that will allow both freelancers and entrepreneurial businesses to thrive. We are combining the comforts of home, with the benefits of a professional office environment …but also the very best of local artisan food and drink!”
Flexible working expands recruitment pool
With no fixed location that employee’s must travel to, the possible recruitment pool is much bigger meaning you can access a huge number of people who would traditionally be too far away for you to even consider making recruitment options much better, but offering flexibility means you also open up the pool to others who can’t or don’t want to work a traditional 9-5 job.
The flexible bottom line
Allowing staff the flexibility to choose how and where they work, empowers them. They can get dedicated uninterrupted time to work from home to meet a deadline, or by taking away the commute they simple get more quality time at work and less stress- either way the business will benefit.
There are some draw backs which are often the stumbling blocks when considering employing remote workers; you will need to factor in the ability to self manage and motivate in your recruitment process, allow more supervision time, a comprehensive induction and extra travel expenses for team meetings.
And lets not pretend that people won’t put the washing on, or even occasionally meet someone coffee, but actually as long as the job is getting done well, that should be the priority, and it is no different to making a coffee in the work kitchen or passing the time of day with a colleague. The key will be about setting good measurable targets, and ensuring that expectations are set early on.
If you are keen to start offering more flexible working options to your staff team, then give us a call and we can help advise you on the options, and the things you’ll need to think about and put in place like a Home Working Policy.