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Since the first outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, more and more businesses have been seeing the benefits of adopting flexible working policies.
Whilst flexible working clearly has big advantages for staff, it can also boost businesses.
When people have the freedom to work flexibly, they are likely to become more productive and happier in their work.
As such, workplaces that have introduced flexible working policies tend to have better staff morale.
There are many reasons why someone might want to be employed by someone offering a flexible working policy.
An example of a flexible working policy would be giving staff permission to work from home one or two days a week.
Employees may also be granted permission to leave their shifts early on occasion so they can attend to personal or family matters.
It’s important to avoid what could be seen as favouritism when offering flexible working.
If some members of staff are permitted to choose their own hours, work from home or leave the workplace early, this could cause resentment amongst staff who feel they should be given the same privileges.
If some team members are offered the chance to work more flexibly and others aren’t, there should be a very good reason for this.
For instance, it might be essential that some employees carry out their work on-site and start at set times.
Flexible working policies are more suited to some businesses than others.
If most of your staff deal with customers on a face-to-face basis, a flexible working policy may not be suitable.
However, if fixed hours aren’t vital and staff can easily complete their tasks remotely, flexible working may be a good option.
The Covid-19 pandemic has led to millions of people working from home for the first time, with many people previously having little or no option for flexible working.
Advances in technology mean many people have been able to carry out their duties to the same standard as they would in the office – paving the way for flexible working policies in the workplace to become the new normal.
Remote work has become beneficial for many companies for the following reasons:
Job-sharing has proved beneficial for many companies and employees, making it easy for high workloads to be completed and enhancing business continuity.
Staff can get more free time as a result of job sharing, without their careers being negatively affected.
Flexitime is another popular form of flexible working that has been popular for decades. With flexitime, employees have more flexibility on their start and end times - as long as they fulfil the hours they are contracted to.
Flexitime can also help staff manage their other commitments more effectively, such as family-related duties like picking the children up from school.
If you are interested in introducing a flexible working policy into your organisation, it’s a good idea to consult your employees first to see if the concept appeals to them.
There are many other things to consider too, for example:
Find out what your staff needs are and how much flexibility is required. Surveys can help you get the answers that you need and should allow you to find out what the office consensus is.
You could even carry out anonymous surveys to allow your staff to express their views freely.
Bringing in a flexible working policy for a trial period can be effective. If it doesn’t work, you can always revert to your previous arrangement.
Some companies start with introducing a flexible working policy for a specific department and rolling it out to other departments if the trial is successful.
Bear in mind however, this may not be practical if you’re only in charge of a small team, and in some cases could cause some contention between departments.
Once the trial is over, get feedback from your team on what worked and what didn’t.
If you do decide to proceed with a flexible working policy, make sure your team have everything they need to make it work.
If remote working is included in your policy, you may have to supply your staff with specific resources, for example, software required to do their job from home.
It may also be effective to introduce certain tracking systems to ensure tasks are being completed as expected.
Employers must find a way to measure productivity that isn’t simply based on time, without setting unreasonable and unattainable targets.
Employees mustn’t feel disconnected from their employers and colleagues when working remotely, so encourage them to check in with you if they do need any guidance with anything.
Virtual meetings and get-togethers can boost morale and prevent feelings of disconnection.
It’s also important to ensure flexible working is optional if possible. Some team members may prefer the old way of doing things and would rather work in the office than from home.
Similarly, others may wish to stick with their usual working hours instead of seeing them overhauled.
To avoid confusion about your flexible working policy, the rules must be available in writing.
Mixed messaging can cause a great deal of confusion over what is and isn’t permitted, and could cause conflict.
It may take a while for each member of your team to get to grips with your new policy, so don’t worry if there are a few teething issues initially.
Flexible working offers benefits for employers and employees. However, clear policies, reliable technology and efficient processes must be in place.
Careful preparation can increase the chances of your flexible working policy being a success.
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