Does flexible working work for you?
Both jobseekers and companies seeking talent must consider the effect of flexible working.
First, let’s get the big question out of the way: just what exactly is flexible working?

Flexible working is a way of working that suits the employee’s needs, such as working from home, or flexible working hours. Many people don’t know it but all employees, not just parents or carers, have a legal right in the UK to request flexible working. This is known as making a statutory application.

An employer must review this request and can either approve or deny it. If the request is denied, the employer must offer a strong business reason for doing so and offer an appeals process.

The Benefits: Flexible Working for Employees

If you’re dreaming of flexible working, you aren’t alone and you’re right, there are many benefits to it.

45% of people in a Powownow survey reported that they spend over an hour commuting; flexible working takes away the need to spend the time (and money) getting to and from the office.

It also gives you more time to address work/life balance, so you can focus on family and other matters in a less rigid manner than the traditional 9–5 office hours working style allows.

There’s also the lack of office disruptions, like gossip, passing conversation and other interruptions!

In fact, 58% of people surveyed by Powownow believe working away from the office would make them more motivated. Don’t forget, it also means a few extra non-work hours provided you make it to your at-home work station in time!

“…70% of people say offering flexible working makes a job more attractive to them and 30% of people report that they would ask for flexible working over a pay rise.”

The Reality

Since companies are legally required to at least consider flexible working requests, it is becoming more common to see it as an established employee benefit.

In fact, 58% of workers are offered flexible working arrangements, although 24% of those offered it don’t make use of it. Why? Doesn’t everyone want the thrill, flexibility and freedom?

Some people report that they prefer the camaraderie of an office environment, need to be present to push through projects or feel more a part of a team in person. It comes down to personal preference and the type of job performed.

Flexible Working: A Company Perspective

Although more and more companies are adopting flexible working policies, there are many that are resisting. In fact, fewer than 10% of jobs that pay £20,000 are advertised with options for flexible working. As a result, for companies with robust policies, employees have an established framework that keeps them happy and productive. However, for companies without these policies, flexible working arrangements are ad hoc and administratively onerous.

47% of employees report that they are not encouraged to take advantage of flexible working at their workplaces. Yet, 70% of people say offering flexible working makes a job more attractive to them and 30% of people report that they would ask for flexible working over a pay rise.

Clearly, companies can attract top quality talent by offering flexible working policies. The trick is to create a process and protocol that makes the arrangement mutually beneficial for the employee and the organisation.

What to consider when reviewing or creating the flexible working policy

Start by making sure that employees have the necessary accoutrements to work at home. For instance, if they require a high-speed internet connection and computer at work, they’ll need the same at home.

Consider whether employees need extra security measures for their internet connection, if or how they should handle sensitive meetings or calls away from the office and if or how they should handle sensitive documentation.

Flexible working is not going anywhere. It is no longer a nice to have but rather something much more important to many employees. Companies that acknowledge this and have a solid policy that offers flexible working where and when possible will attract high quality candidates and have employees that are happy and productive regardless of whether they’re working at home or in the office. (Don’t just take our word for it, watch this interesting interview with Microsoft marketing director Helen Tupper about why she supports flexible working for her employees.)

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Enlight Consulting
Recruitment services for Insight, Market Research, Strategy and Analytics