Flexible working is a hot topic and we have been discussing the relative merits within our network. This article takes a look at the relative costs and benefits of flexible working to the workforce.
The biggest ‘trial’ for flexible working hours was the 2012 Olympics. Statistics showed that companies who offered flexible hours saw a sizeable uplift in productivity, new collaborative approaches to work and other ‘softer’ benefits such as people taking up more sporting activity and greater employee loyalty. More broadly there are several other boosts offered up by flexible working, often the workforce becomes more motivated, companies experience increased loyalty, reduced levels of sickness absence and less demand for expensive office space.
The advancement of technology has also facilitated the shift towards working from home. Conference calling, video conferencing, email and social media have meant that flexible working is easily within reach and people no longer need to be sitting next to each other to communicate effectively; although this of course is subjective.
Some of the potential pitfalls of working remotely should be duly noted. In smaller offices, managers may find it more difficult to substitute the skill sets of employees who are absent, it can also have the opposite effect on morale as it can mean that some employees may resent that others are allowed to work flexibly. Others have pointed to the fact that it could still prove a costly exercise to companies who will have to deal with a paperwork backlog and health and safety checks for those employees who frequently work from home.
So there are many issues to think about when adopting any change to working practises. But what does need to be recognised is that employees’ lives are becoming increasingly overstretched and that in order for people to achieve an element of work / life balance then they begin to demand flexibility from their employers.