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Flexible working – making it work

06 February 2020

Engagement | Benefits | Wellness

Posted on: 06 February 2020

According to government definition, flexible working is a way of working that suits an employee's needs such as having flexible start and finish times, or working from home. This is subject to specific criteria, for example, having worked for your employer continuously for 26 weeks. The ideology of the typical 9-5 is slowly diminishing, and therefore, flexi work is becoming increasingly popular in the modern workplace and employers are increasingly open to offering this as an employee benefit.

The benefits of flexible working to the employee

Allowing employee flexibility not only instigates a trusting relationship but can help improve work life balance. Giving staff the option to leave early to pick their children up from school, work from home because they have a doctor’s appointment, or just allow for personal life admin, allows employees to deal with the everyday challenges of life and enjoy work in their own space.

This is also financially beneficial to employees for many reasons. Flexible working allows for flexible start and finish times and with the commute to work very different at 10am than 8am, a later start time can reduce fuel consumption, petrol costs and the length of the overall commute. Not only will this benefit the employees bank account but will help the environment too. As long as employees are supplied with the necessary tools for flexible working, this can be a positive change.

The benefits for the employer

There are plenty of ways employers benefit from offering flexible working to their staff, and these are just a few. Probably the most important to business; the increase in productivity and employee retention. If employees can work their life around their job, then it’s much more likely they will be happier and therefore more likely to stay in their role. In fact, a study conducted by Forbes found that flexible workers who didn’t work a typical 9-5 were off sick less often, worked longer hours, were happier in their work and achieved more over a given period.

In terms of recruiting, offering flexible working can help you stand out from other businesses. Almost 70% of small businesses offer some form of flexible working, and 73% of employees using flexible work arrangements said that it has improved their overall job satisfaction, which will attract a larger, more diverse quantity of applicants. Flexible working ultimately allows for different lifestyles to join together under common ground, which is a recipe for a more unique workforce.

This could even lead to reduced recruitment costs, as offering flexibility will encourage a larger variety of applicants from organic search (meaning less money spent on promoting upcoming vacancies externally.) This is likely to attract more people as  78% of UK professionals said their current or most recent employer offered flexible working, it is understandable that they would look for it in their next employer.

Some would argue that flexible working encourages unhealthy work habits, loneliness and inadequate structure to the day, but ultimately, flexible working, much like anything has its pros and cons. As long as you have a trusting, understanding relationship with your manager then flexible working can be very beneficial to productivity. However, it fundamentally depends on the needs of both the employer and employee.

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