Top tips for flexible working
The scale of flexible working amongst UK businesses is starting to accelerate according to a study conducted by the Orange Future Enterprise coalition (OFEc). The study reveals that half of UK employees will consider the degree of flexibility available to them as an important factor in choosing their next job.
For employees, the appeal of flexible working is clear with many seeing it as a way to improve their work/life balance. From an employer point of view too, giving staff the ability to work when they feel most able offers significant benefits. In can be an influential tool in encouraging talent to join your company or stay with you for longer. It can also increase productivity, competitiveness and, in turn, success. Before implementing a flexible working environment in your office, consider the following tips from Orange:
1. Consider the scale of your flexible working programme
For some workers, having a BlackBerry so that emails can be answered at the school gates will be enough. For others, the ability to access key documents or the internet in hotel rooms or from home will be essential. Determining the expectations of staff and employer is essential in ensuring any flexible working programme is successful.
2. Consider how employees are managed, evaluated and rewarded
Before implementing a flexible working strategy in your business it is important to consider any ‘behind the scenes’ changes that may need to be made. Flexible working styles are often more independent, and as a result they require objectives to be clearly laid out and less micro management. It is also important that flexible workers receive the appropriate level of support and visibility, despite being out of the office. Training managers can be a great way to monitor and motivate remote working staff and can be key to ensuring people remain on track. Making sure these sorts of measures are in place will help to ensure that employees benefit from greater productivity, as well as greater efficiencies for the organisation.
3. Understand how your employees currently work
Flexibility may already play a surprisingly large role in your employees working lives. Knowing and understanding any current flexible habits already in place is invaluable in planning for the provision of flexibility. It will ensure your flexible working plans are embraced by the organisation and may even save you time and money by not re-inventing the wheel.
4. Ensure flexible working underpins the strategic aims of the organisation
There are gains to be made from flexible working that go beyond meeting individual employee requests. It is important to consider how increased flexibility could enhance working practices across the organisation. For example, by allowing a more flexible working environment it is possible for a business to increase the number of customer service hours available in a day. This results in a more responsive business with increased visibility.
5. Consider the global impact of flexible working on your workforce
One person’s flexibility can impact another person’s performance. Therefore it is necessary to consider what the wider impacts of flexible working might be. The more widespread flexible working becomes, the wider its potential impact.
6. Be clear about who can work more flexibly and who cannot
Within organisations there are some job roles and people for whom flexible working practices are less appropriate. Having clear ground rules and procedures for assessing this avoids confusion or perceptions of unfairness.
7. Consider how formal your flexible working culture needs to be
Some organisational cultures and working styles will suit a relaxed approach to flexibility and others need clear guidelines, procedures and ground rules. Getting the level of control right is crucial in facilitating effective flexible working practices.
8. Evaluate the costs and benefits of flexible working
Developing flexible working practices often requires the investment of time and capital. Looking at the potential organisational benefits or reduced costs helps organisations understand the wider business case.
9. Be realistic!
Flexible working can improve employees’ sense of well being and job satisfaction, but it cannot address these areas on its own. More importantly, if not implemented correctly, greater flexibility can lead to a lack of direction and support which can have a negative impact on the workforce.
10. It’s crucial to get the IT right
When planning the provision of communications and access to data systems, flexible workers need to be considered. Making remote systems work is often one of the hardest elements needed to make flexible working successful, but today it is one of the most important.