need to know about
Flexible working can be a major attribute to your company culture, helping your team to gain that work-life harmony, and providing more innovation in your business. Discover more about the many ways of flexible working.
around flexible working
What is flexible working?
Flexible working is where people are given the ability to have alternative working hours than the traditional industrial 9am – 5pm. Ultimately your organisation moves away from the concept of a standard five-day working week or eight hour day, instead shifting to a new flexible working practice.
There are many types of flexible working, each with benefits and some minor disadvantages. The most common types of flexible working include four-day weeks, six-hour days, compressed working hours, and remote working.
Flexible working can be requested by an employee; however, it’s been shown that person-specific flexible working can often provide individuals with ‘flexibility stigma’; therefore we always recommend that flexible working should be a business-wide practice.
Many businesses provide part-time flexibility, or give their teams ‘optional flexible hours’, this type of flexible working practice is not recommended, as research shows few people find this productive.
What are the benefits of flexible working?
There are many benefits of flexible working both for the business and for the people who work for the business.
For the business, the benefits of flexible working include;
- Having greater efficiency and productivity within the organisation.
- Being able to hire talented people from anywhere in the world.
- Reducing your physical office costs.
- Increasing employee happiness and wellbeing.
- Reducing presenteeism and absenteeism.
- Becoming a competitive employer.
- Increasing overall employee engagement.
- Increasing employee retention.
For the people working within the business, the benefits include;
- A better work-life balance.
- Reduced work-related stress.
- Greater focus and productivity.
- More autonomy over projects and tasks.
- Decreased commuting time.
- Increased job satisfaction.
- Flexibility to meet personal needs.
Which flexible working practice will work for our business?
Knowing which flexible working practice will work best for your business may take time, as there are many different types of flexible working models.
Taking a holistic approach to your flexible working practice is best, as you need to ensure it supports both your people and your business.
Not all types of flexible working may suit the product or service that you sell or how your business operates. Therefore, you have to think extensively about which flexible working model may be the best fit for your business.
Sometimes, it may not be just one flexible working model that you require, but a combination—for example, standard working days plus remote working days.
You should always consider which type of flexible working you feel may be suitable first, and then begin testing and trialling that practice before doing a full change. This can help you make any changes early on, and identify any problems before you switch entirely to new flexible working practice.
It is also best practice to find other businesses or organisations within your sector who have implemented a flexible working model to learn from their early mistakes and understand how they went about the change.
Any organisation or business can work flexibly; this includes healthcare practitioners, government agencies, service providers, and commerce businesses.
How to successfully implement flexible working?
Implementing flexible working should be done through a trial and test methodology to ensure that the practice you’ve chosen is supportive to your business and your people.
The recommended steps to implement flexible working include;
- Identifying which flexible working practice ‘might’ work for your business
- Getting input and feedback from your team
- Understanding any current inefficiencies that may hold this back
- Outlining initial guidelines of flexible working answering any questions from employees
- Execute a test / trial period of the flexible working practice for 90 days
- Gain consistent feedback from your team throughout the experiment.
The first step to implementing flexible working is to understand which practice may fit the way your business operates and how it will fit with your people. Use any current insight or data you have available to make an informed decision about which flexible working practice ‘might’ be a good place to start.
As best practice, it is always vital to get the input from your team about flexible working, as they will be the ones who are ultimately going to help drive the flexible working, and make it work. They will also have knowledge about their roles / departments that you may not, so getting different insight from the start is critical if you wish for flexible working to be successful.
Will flexible working work for us?
Flexible working can work for any business model or organisation; the simple fact is it comes down to the people you have onboard and your mindset towards flexible working.
Not all types of flexible working work for everyone. For example, remote working doesn’t always work for people who enjoy being in company and being able to easily collaborate with others.
A flexible working practice that works for one company doesn’t mean it’s going to work for your business. Flexible working requires a very bespoke approach, and one that is curious about the way your business and people work.
Flexible working will work for your business if you approach it in the right way, and come at it with curiosity and experimentation.
The most common reasons that businesses fail to implement successful flexible working is because their people can’t get onboard with the practice and because they haven’t given the practice enough time in the trial phase.
How do you create a flexible work environment?
A flexible work environment provides a conducive space for flexible working to be a success.
By creating a strong flexible working environment you can ensure that people adapt to flexible working, and that your business can operate in the most efficient way.
When creating a strong flexible working environment there are a few areas you should focus on. This includes;
- Building trust and accountability in the organisation
- Ensuring you have strong guidelines for your flexible working
- Providing the best tools for communication and project management
- Consistently training your team on flexible working practices and soft skills such as productivity and time management
- Creating a strong culture where people can continue to feel connected to their team and the organisation
How do you manage flexible working?
How you manage flexible working depends on the type of flexible working practice you have chosen to implement within your organisation.
The most difficult flexible working practices to manage include compressed working hours, and optional flexible working,
These flexible working practices are difficult to manage as it can be difficult for people working in teams to know when they can come together for meetings or collaborative projects.
Tracking flexible hours in these practices can also create some heavy administrative duties on both those in HR and on the employee which can become frustrating.
Choosing a flexible working model that has more structure, can ensure everyone knows when people are available, and almost completely removes the requirement of flexibility to be managed in the organisation.
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The Most Popular Types
of Flexible Working
Globally there are five types of flexible working practices.
Many businesses choose to select one type. However, you
can also combine standard working days with a mix of
other types of flexible working.
4 Day Week
With a four day week, the working week is limited to only four days. The days typically consist of the usual eight hours unless instruted otherwise.
6 Hour Day
With a six-hour day, the working hours are limited from eight hours of work to six hours of work. Your business sets the time from that these hours must be worked.
With remote working employees are given the opportunity to conduct their work outside the office. This could be from home, or any space that is condusive to their working style.
A results-only-work-environment (R.O.W.E) as it is known, is a flexible working method whereby employees are paid for the quality of their work, rather than the hours worked.
A compressed flexible working strategy is where employees are given the responsibility to manage their own hours of the working week. They have the same hours but can spread these out across the week as they see fit.
Let's help you
I can help your business implement successful flexible working, enabling you to build an agile business, and a strong employer brand.
- I help you discover the best flexible working model for your business
- I train your team for their new flexible working practice
- I guide you from through testing, trialling and launching your flexible working practice.
The Ultimate Guides
to Flexible Working
No matter where you are on your flexible work journey,
these eBooks can help you get started.
Discover how to successfully adopt long-term remote working. Understand the key areas to improve and where most businesses fail in remote working.
Learn more about the many ways of flexible working. Get to know the pros and cons of each popular model, and get a better understanding of which may work for your business.