flexiworkingSince June 30th this year, all employees have the legal right to request flexible working, not just parents and carers. Before the law was introduced, there was a fear that it would have a detrimental affect on many small businesses, with the FSB saying ’There is a fear that it will introduce negative dynamic in workplace, particularly in case of unsuccessful requests’.

We disagree however, and have been offering flexible working to all our employees way before the law was introduced earlier this year. Many small businesses that we know also think that flexible working is the best thing since sliced bread!

For starters, flexible working is so much more than just going part time or working from home… 

  • Job sharing – two people doing one job and splitting the hours
  • Compressed hours – working full time hours over fewer days
  • Flexitime – choosing when to start and end work, but still working certain ‘core hours’
  • Annualised hours – having to work a certain number of hours over the year, but have the ability to choose when to work them
  • Staggered hours – employee has a different start, finish and break time

Why it’s great

  • First of all it makes you more appealing to prospective employees – knowing that they may have the opportunity to work from home, or on a schedule that suits them is very attractive to many.
  • It reduces stress and can result in better performance from existing employees
  • It reduces sick days, as employees can fit their work around their personal life

Watch out for

  • Make sure any employee that works flexibly feels part of the team – whether they are working remotely or different hours, it can be separating, so keep them involved and in the loop.
  • Make sure you stay on top of communication with employees that are mostly remote, and make sure those who are job sharing are always in contact with one another.
  • If you have employees working compressed hours, make sure they don’t get too stressed or bogged down with work.
  • Strike a balance between your employee and customer needs; at the end of the day, you still need to run your business!

Making it work

  • What is right for your business? Maybe remote working isn’t right for your employees, so consider other options. What about part time or compressed hours?
  • Define roles and responsibilities early – if there is a job share involved, who will be doing what? If someone is working compressed hours, highlight the most important tasks for completion.
  • Trial and error. You wont know what works until you try it. If something doesn’t work, there are always other options!

What we have to say…

Sam: ‘Flexible working practices within my job are invaluable. First and foremost, it is a fantastic way to work if you are (like me) a parent. If my children are poorly I can work from home and still be with them to care for them, and I never have to miss all the important events in their school and personal lives. I can achieve that all elusive balance of being a Mum, working and running a home – though my ironing pile tells a different story! I am able to study for other elements within the industry at my leisure which also helps me to improve at my own role and extend my knowledge and skills base – something I simply would not have the time to do in a ‘9-5’ role’

Sadie: ‘ Thank god for flexible working! I live miles away from RG HQ, and without their flexible working policy I wouldn’t be able to do the job I love, for a company I love. While working from home can be boring at times, I am in constant contact with Kate, and I really feel like part of the team. I’ve also got a nice routine down to keep me productive’

Paul: ‘ Flexible working has a lot of advantages for both me and the company I work for. I like writing code and that makes me sit in front of my computer for extended hours. So whenever I feel my mind is exhausted from thinking, I can go take some rest or maybe take a nap at any time that I feel like I need to and not because it’s “time’s up, time to take a break”. Flexible working also enables me to go with my family wherever we need to or do some things (chores) with them that we need to at some random time. It also enables me to sharpen my skills since I can learn or research things that I think are needed for the approach I’m taking for whatever project I’m working on. So I really like that I have total control of my time because it enables me to always work at my best and keep a balance of time with my family.’

Kate: ‘As a mum to a nearly-4-year-old I’d struggle without the ability to work flexibly. It’s important to me that my colleagues have the same opportunities I do – if I’m more productive when I’m able to be flexible with my schedule, then surely they will be too. This has turned out to be the case and we have a happy, focused team. Additionally, three of us are in a different time zone (8 hours ahead) so working flexible hours allows us to be online at the same time. It’s crucial to have good contact and communication with a flexible team so that everyone stays in the loop and feels included.’

Image source: http://www.barchestergreen.co.uk/business-2/flexible-working-rights-to-be-extended-in-2014-a-guide

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