The right to request flexible working first came into force back in 2002, but it was limited to people who had small children or other dependents to look after. In 2014 this right was extended to most workers in the UK and since 2003 the number of people working flexible hours, and of those working some or all hours from home, has doubled.
Once viewed with scepticism, flexible working and telecommuting works! It used to be seen as an excuse to skive off, used by disengaged employees looking for an easy ride, but it’s simply not the case. Here’s just some of the ways you could help your business and your staff by introducing flexible working.
How flexible working and telecommuting can benefit everyone
- Improved cost-effectiveness – if some employees work from home for most or all of the time, then the business saves on overheads like desk space, for example, your office supplies coordinator can buy online from wherever she is;
- less downtime for machinery – if some people come in from 8.00am to 4.00pm, with others starting at 12.00pm to 8.00pm, the machinery is operating for longer each day;
- whatever the nature of the business, flexible working allows for extended hours of operation, especially if, for example, helpline workers can log in from home;
- businesses can bring in a more diverse and talented range of workers because the chance to work compressed hours, part-time hours or from home attracts people whose talents are effectively on ice until the children are in school;
- the costs of recruitment are reduced because positions are filled sooner – and, more importantly, for longer, as staff morale and loyalty is higher;
- staff continuity is higher, too, as people are more likely to stay on despite big life changes like parenthood, caring for elderly relatives or even moving from the area, and
- there’s fewer sick days in companies with flexible working.
These benefits don’t stop there, either, they are passed on to customers, who get to know the staff members and benefit from their increased experience and motivation. A loyal and long-standing workforce also helps businesses to withstand adverse market events, too.
How flexible working helps employees
In short, flexible working enables staff to take care of their family commitments and personal lives. One example is if a couple both work compressed hours – one works from Monday to Thursday and the other from Tuesday to Friday – then the children only need to go to daycare for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Introducing your flexible working policy
Tell staff you’re introducing flexible and home working, then consult them to find out what sort of approach fits them.
You need to look at:
What flexible working arrangements will suit the business?
- What sort of arrangements suit your business;
- how you’ll sort through applications – who will administer them and who will attend interviews and meetings;
- sort out the roles that aren’t suitable for flexi-hours or homeworking and how to help those members of staff to strike a better work-life balance;
- work out IT facilities so employees can log on and access etc from home, and
- find out how you can set up your new policies so they’re legally sound.