Over the last few years, flexible working has become something of a buzzword in the business world. Some companies have embraced it wholeheartedly, others have shied away from it completely, and most have adopted an approach to it that falls somewhere between the two.
But what actually is flexible working and what could it have to offer your business?
A definition of flexible working
As you can imagine, it’s hard to fully define something that has the word ‘flexible’ in the title! The great thing about adopting flexible working practices is that it’s a non-prescriptive working style that’s easily adaptable to any business.
The CIPD defines flexible working as ‘a type of working arrangement which gives a degree of flexibility on how long, where, when and at what times employees work.’ It often includes options such as flexitime, remote working, compressed hours, working from home and zero hour contracts.
What are the benefits of flexible working?
There are some fantastic benefits to flexible working. It may seem counter-intuitive, but study after study has shown that businesses who offer their employees flexibility over working hours and location actually get the benefit of greater productivity.
Here’s what employees have to say about flexible working:
75% of employees say that it boosts their job satisfaction
72% of employees say it improves their work/life balance
54% of employees say it makes them more productive
Is there are downside to flexible working?
With more and more forward-facing business adopting this working practice, it makes sense to ask if there are any downsides.
The only real downside to flexible working is that there can be an initial adjustment period while employers and employees get used to the changes. There can also be an upfront investment for businesses to equip employees with the laptops and devices they need in order to be able to work efficiently from home or other remote locations.
However, the cost and time involved in this initial period is typically seen as a very small price to pay for the long term benefits of a happier team.
Do employers have to offer flexible working?
Though more and more businesses are seeing the value in promoting flexible working options to their employees, some are still unsure about offering it.
There are some laws and regulations to be aware of here. In the UK all employees have the right to request flexible working, so long as they have worked for the same employer for twenty six weeks or more. However, at the moment employers are only obliged to deal with requests in a reasonable manner and can turn them down if they have a good business reason for doing so.
How can you get started?
If you think flexible working is the way forward for your business, there are a number of ways you can dip your toes in the water and start exploring the benefits.
Smaller business may want to look into moving into a flexible-friendly co-working office. Tempted? Why not take a look at our fantastic Leeds co-working space?