Dolly Parton might have sung ‘working nine to five, what a way to make a living’, but today we live in a world where flexi time could become the norm. But is flexible working here to stay? This guide aims to help you decide whether flexible working could be the right way to motivate your staff.
What is flexible working?
Flexible working refers to the right employees have to work according to their needs. This can include working from home, reduced hours, and many other flexible arrangements that we’ll explore later. In England, Wales and Scotland , the right for any employee to request flexible working has been enshrined in law since 2014 (the rules are different in Northern Ireland).
Types of flexible working
Everyone has different responsibilities in life – from raising children to caring for an elderly relative – and there are countless types of flexible working that can cater to employees’ particular needs.
Flexible schedules come in many forms, and here are just some of the ways that flexible working may benefit employees.
- Working from home. Millions of people have now experienced remote working, and for those who can carry out their duties away from a main site, the option of home working is something you could consider for your employees.
- Part-time hours. Not everyone wants (or is able) to clock in and out for eight hours a day. Part-time workers work for a reduced number of hours (or days) per week.
- Job sharing. You could give your team the chance to share their job with another person. This is where two people work in the same role and split the hours between them.
- Flexi time. A worker on flexi time can choose which time they start or end the working day, outside of certain agreed core hours, and within limits.
- Compressed hours. This is where an employee works the same hours as a full-time staffer, but over fewer days; for example, a four-day, 40-hour week.
- Phased retirement. Staff approaching the end of their careers could request phased retirement, which gives them the opportunity to reduce their hours while withdrawing part of their pension.
What are the benefits of flexible working for employers?
There are lots of ways that flexible schedulescan potentially benefit not just employees, but employers too. Here are some reasons why you may wish to promote flexible working at your workplace.
- A motivated team.Advocates of flexible workingbelieve it can motivate staff, as the reduction in ‘burnout’ may improve people’s physical and mental health.
- Completed tasks. Some employees may prefer flexible working – such as remote working – if they feel they can be more productive at home, or in whichever flexible arrangement suits them.
- The chance to attract talent. Recruiting the right people to grow a business is a challenge for any company. Offering a generous flexible working package could appeal to talented workers on the lookout for a job with a good work-life balance.
How does flexible working affect a business?
There are different ways that flexible working can affect businesses depending on the context. For example, you may benefit from reduced overheads if you’re able to close the office for some of the working week to enable home working. Moreover, some companies may experience improved staff wellbeing, job satisfaction and morale. And potentially, a better work-life balance for your staff may result in reduced absences through sickness.
How to transition to flexible work schedules
While flexible workingcan bring many benefits to employees, it’s worth thinking carefully about how to design the best plan for your business. Questions you may wish to ask yourself include:
- What are the boundaries? Offering flexi timemight be attractive to employees, but you may need to define the core hours so that everyone knows where they stand.
- How will you keep a strong team spirit? Social activities are an important part of your employees’ down-time, but making sure your home workers aren’t too disconnected – especially during a pandemic – could help keep everyone happy.
- Do you have the right tools in place? While ‘doing our own thing’ is often an appealing way to work, you may wish to ensure your team have the tools to do their job wherever they are –from the huge choice of work channels for example,like Slack (although there are many other options out there) to bookkeeping software.
You may already have your own flexible working arrangements in place, but if not, any of your employees that have worked for your company for the last 26 weeks can apply for flexible working – known as a statutory application – using the steps outlined on GOV.UK.
Discover more at Tyl Talks
Flexible working is just one of the ways you can enhance your business offering, both for your employees, and ultimately your customers. Read our articles and guides for more bright ideas and inspiration to help you do what you do best.
This has been prepared by Tyl by NatWest for informational purposes only and should not be treated as advice or a recommendation. There may be other considerations relevant to you and your business so you should undertake your own independent research.
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