In recent years there has been a massive transition in the way that we work. Yes, covid had a great contribution to the speed in which employers had to adhere to this transition. However, in the pre-covid period many employees already had the desired flexibility in where and when they worked - just over a quarter of the working population worked from home in 2019. Whilst this is now significantly higher,it was still a significant percentage of the London workforce who were in the driver's seat when it came to their work-life balance.
There are many benefits to flexible working such as; reduced burnout, job satisfaction and increased productivity. Flexible work arrangements allow employees to have a certain degree of control over the time, place and way they complete their work. In addition to boosting staff retention, flexible work arrangements have been shown to increase employee satisfaction with company culture. Statistics show that 78% of respondents said flexible work would allow them to live a healthier life, and 86 % said they would be less stressed. So why was flexible working denied for many years? One reason could be that employers have no sense of tangible control over the efforts put in by the employees. There is no guarantee that work is being achieved when they say it is and that lack of control could cause unease with leadership. Nonetheless Covid taught many employers that work can still be achieved no matter the location.
In this blog post we'll explore the benefits of flexible work arrangements for employees. We will also offer some best practices for implementing a successful program at your organisation!
But before that, let’s start with…
What is a flexible work arrangement?
Flexible work arrangement is the flexibility over where, when and the hours people work. This comes in many forms, includingjob sharing, remote working, converting from full-time to part-time, adhering to your hours but choosing to work on weekends. In conclusion, flexible working arrangements look different to everyone, but suits the dynamics of their day-to-day life without compromising (and ideally improving) their efficiency and effectiveness of their work.
Flexibility looks different to everyone. One size most definitely doesn't fit all. It's about accommodating personal life, abilities, capacity all in one and producing a working solution that suits that individuals needs.
Why is flexible working desired?
An improvement in employee morale can be due to many things and is mainly a response to the trust they feel for being permitted to work flexibly. Thanks to flexible working arrangements employees are able to navigate their personal lives alongside their work tasks for the week. The improved work life balance tends to improve productivity as employees are less stressed and have a greater sense of well-being and are generally happier about life. From the lens of the employer, flexible working can create a better working environment as the degree of personal choice builds a culture of autonomy and responsibility. When someone is responsible for something there tends to be a driving force to see it through.
Attractive benefit for new recruits
Gone are the days when traditional working patterns were the norm; a company that offers flexible working are more attractive than those that don’t. As hybrid work takes affect across the UK, it is now a well desired benefit for potential recruits not just for the younger members of the organisation but also the more established worker. By offering flexible working arrangements, your organisation could be attracting a more budding and determined employee which could lead to a better integration of business culture and greater efficiency within the organisation. Add an example, for instance, on LI one can look for a job by filtering ‘remote office’ etc
How to Implement flexible working practices?
We’ve all heard the term communication is key! However, when implementing a new way of work it is not key but the foundation. Flexible working must become embedded into company culture for it to take full effect. Employers must communicate their expectations of employees, clarifying that flexible working does not mean denial of responsibilities but the opportunity for trust to be built, employees to be autonomous and take control of their day. Once that is achieved, creating a supportive organisational culture, underpinned by leadership and Human resources is essential. It is important to not just offer this benefit but see the employees through this, knowing them beyond work, knowing their capacity and their concerns as flexible working arrangements means that employees are often invisible and work non-standard hours. Therefore, vital communication channels should be created to avoid isolation and would enable management to manage their expectations.
Adapting is all about trial and error. Find out what works and what doesn’t for your business and have the courage to identify the faults and improve them. When implementing flexible working practices organisations must have an evaluation process in place. How to monitor and evaluate the success of the scheme and how to continue optimizing the benefit at hand. It is easy to get complacent when working flexibly but it is also easy to overwork, feeling as though you must compensate being home or away from office with working extra hours. It is important for employees to be vocal about what is working for them and what isn’t as well as employers to assessing the effectiveness of the scheme on the employee’s overall efficiency and effectiveness.
Is it for all?
In conclusion, flexible working offers an array of options for employees to balance their personal life and their work life and encourages employers to think of creative ways to increase employee retention. In a world that is transitioning from working from home back to office, its essential we are helping employees to adjust and make a smooth transition. Or no transition at all. By listening to employees, employers and management can help strike the balance for employees and catering to their needs in a post covid world.