Why it’s time to consider flexible working

You may think that flexible working is just for parents, but it isn’t, it’s available to everyone and offers numerous benefits for employees AND employers. In fact, flexible working is becoming more and more mainstream, so it may be time to consider embracing it into your business, or requesting it from your employer.

All employees have the legal right to request flexible working which includes: job sharing, flexi-time, working from home, part-time working and compressed hours – which is essentially working full time hours over fewer days.

For employers, it’s not all doom and gloom – in fact, not at all, there are plenty of benefits. Firstly, it’s very much seen as the modern way and can improve the employer’s ability to attract and retain talented people. It is a great way to increase employee engagement, morale and commitment to the company. Plus, it can reduce lateness and absences whilst promoting a higher standard of work and productivity because employees can work when they have time to concentrate and feel freshest. The other potential win for employers is that you can extend your hours of operation if your employees flexible working enables you to cover a wider range of hours.

For employees, it’s got numerous, more obvious benefits. It supports a greater work life balance by allowing employees to cover all their responsibilities (work and home) at the most convenient time. It reduces commuting time, stress and expense and give employees a greater sense of control over their lives. It’s also a great way to reduce employee burn out and, for parents, it can make childcare costs more manageable and increase child care options.

Investing in and listening to your teams, who may need to work with more flexibility, can help your organisation work smarter and your team to feel more balanced and engaged.

I work with a lot of business owners, senior managers and employees and the biggest obstacle to flexible working – and one of the biggest benefits from implementing it – comes down to trust. Employees feel more greatly valued where they are trusted to deliver and not micro managed.

The definition of trust is having a firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something. Often by giving employees and co-workers the space to decide when they complete their responsibilities, it makes them take greater ownership of their role and this leads to greater job satisfaction and better results. Their values become more closely aligned to those of the company and they become part of the group that drives a positive culture.

As an aside, if you can’t trust an employee, you should consider whether they are the right fit for your business…

As with all things in business, the success of a flexible working scheme will depend on clear communication from both parties. Everyone needs to be completely clear on what’s expected of them and what they can expect from others. You need to agree how it will work with the rest of the team, who’s responsible for what, how the team with communicate effectively under the new format. For example, will you expect an employee to be available to be contactable on their days off? All this needs to be agreed in advance.

Everyone I’ve worked with, businesses and individuals, who have taken the plunge into flexible working have seen improved levels of happiness, commitment and productivity. It may seem scary but it’s time to rip that plaster off and benefit from happier more productive team with less stress, more trust and greater results for you and your customers.

For more from Jann Richardson visit http://jannrichardson.co.uk

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