five black rocks

 

As it’s National Work Life Week, it got us thinking about flexible working and how the landscape is shifting. But is it really changing for the better? According to a Boston Consulting Group poll, among women with advanced degrees who left their jobs, 69% would have stayed on for a flexible working option.

Why is it that for some employers, flexible working is discouraged? The workplace has changed drastically. We answer emails from mobiles out of hours, we take client calls via bluetooth while driving to appointments, we join virtual meetings on our train commutes.

So many hours that could have been lost in a pre-digital era are now up for grabs. It only follows that flexibility should also make up part of this ‘give and take’ situation.

Our Joint MD, Karen Ovenden says

‘The workplace has fundamentally changed and employers should be prepared to modernise. We can identify in our own lives that our families come before work, and we should be able to see this is the case for our employees, too. The work life balance is more needed than ever in an era where we struggle to shut off, resist the temptation to check our emails at home or take calls on a day off. If you’re ever in doubt as to whether to give your staff the flexibility, say yes and see your employee retention and work place satisfaction sky rocket. It doesn’t hurt that happy employees are also more productive!’

Not convinced?

Here are three examples as to how flexible working could improve your workplace:

Childcare commitments

For many working parents, flexible working can provide sustainable ways to balance at-home demands with a fulfilling career.

Working around the school run for example can make a real difference to work-life logistics. A workplace that practices flexibility and understanding around managing emergency time off when a child in unwell, or needs to be picked up from school unexpectedly, can also help to ease stressful situations.

School holidays can be a particularly challenging time for working parents. During these periods, time could be managed by using accrued hours to balance time off, or by working remotely to reduce time in the office.

By lifting some of the burden of balancing home and work-life, employees can be more focussed, productive and happier when working.

Enhancing career progression

Flexibility can be essential to helping working parents continue progressing in their careers – and where there is no flexibility there are implications on employees’ ambitions.

‘Flexible work is becoming more important for both women and men. A Pew study found that 60% of working mothers feel that balancing work and family is difficult, 52% of working fathers feel the same, and many of both step back from, or off, the career track as a result’ (BCG, 2019) 

Giving that degree of flexibility means your employees can stay with you long term, knowing their career prospects aren’t harmed by their working pattern.  You also benefit from a wider talent pool if you are able to take on remote workers or those mixing commuting longer distances with home working.

Family commitments

Increasingly, having elderly parents mean people need flexibility at work in order to manage time around accompanying parents to medical appointments, or meeting with community nurses, carers or local authorities.

Again, these commitments can be eased slightly by the opportunity to work flexibly and/or remotely, and an understanding from employers around unexpected time away from the office.

Something that’s often less considered are flexible working policies during an adoption process or fertility treatment. It’s vital to help support employees during these sensitive and challenging times – even just by being flexible around appointments and time away from the office.

Commuting

Flexible working is not only a positive and pragmatic way to ease a personal strain on your employees, but also to retain talent in the future.

You don’t want to lose great talent if an employee moves away or the office relocates. Agile working patterns can help staff to balance a longer journey to work, for example through earlier or later start and finish times.

Another practical solution, tried and tested by some of the team here at Hireserve, can be to combine remote and office working – for example by spending two days at home and three days at the office.

Technology continually improves to reduce the barriers in remote working. Collaborate on a Trello board, log into Slack or Skype to communicate with colleagues, recreate a virtual boardroom with a video conference call. The sky is the limit, whether it’s hardware or software, in enabling a seamless transition between on site and off-site working.

Benefits to business

We’ve covered how flexible working can make a difference your staff, but how can it benefit your organisation?

By supporting staff with agile working opportunities, you’ll increase retention and tap into the talent of part time workers. You’ll be attracting new talent – especially those for whom flexibility is a deal breaker. It can also widen the pool available to you if you are willing to combine office based and home working arrangements for staff. This results in an overall increase in staff satisfaction, loyalty and productivity. What is there to lose?

About the author

From recruitment into central government, to financial services and the charitable sector, Leah has worked across many industries in her wide ranging career! Now working as Hireserve's Senior Marketing Executive, Leah covers all things marketing - from maintaining our social media channels to managing logistics for events across the country.