Friday 6 May is Flexible Working Awareness Day – the opportunity to champion those businesses that offer their workers adaptable hours and to raise awareness of the potential benefits of flexible working arrangements for those companies that haven’t yet caught on.
With so many businesses now offering this to their staff, is it time that every employer does so? Or does it simply not work in some industries? It seems the reign of the rigid 9-5 working day is coming to an end – much to the delight of a sizable proportion of the British workforce.
A new study by facilities management specialists Direct365 showed that 35% of employees would choose flexible office hours as their number one employee benefit. But are employers listening?
As of 2014, those who have worked for their employer for at least 26 weeks have a legal right to apply for flexible working arrangements.
Employers meanwhile need to:
- Hold a meeting with the staff member regarding their application
- Assess the advantages and disadvantages of flexible working hours for their business
- Offer an appeal process if their initial request is denied
Phil Turner, Head of Digital at Direct 365, feels it’s all about the way in which flexible working hours are executed. If a sound plan isn’t drawn up beforehand, this modern approach to working can be damaging. He commented:
“Policies such as flexible working can be mutually beneficial for employers and employees alike, when they are implemented sensibly. However, a lot of businesses are clearly struggling to find the right balance.”
“It’s not uncommon for someone to be sat at their desk all on their own for an entire day because the rest of their team are either working from home or have been given permission to switch their hours. Technological advancements have made communication easy, but you really shouldn’t underestimate the importance of face-to-face contact. We’re in danger of losing good old-fashioned ‘watercooler talk’!”
What are the benefits of flexi-time?
- Cost effective – opportunity to save on energy and overheads
- Offers a USP to prospective candidates, potentially attracting higher-quality staff
- Potential improvements in staff morale and productivity
- Reduction in stress levels
- Possible reduction in sick days and absentees
- May result in staff being overworked and tempted to work past the time they normally would if in the office
- Some employees perform better working as a team alongside their colleagues
- Productivity could falter as staff are left to their own devices away from the structure that working in the office provides
- Working from home isn’t feasible for everyone – you might have to provide them with the technology to make it happen
The arguments for and against flexible working hours will rumble on for years to come. For some companies, it’s a unique way to give staff the trust to perform as well at home as they do at work.
For others, however, it’s perceived as the end for the traditional workforce and that ‘team’ ethic that hundreds of UK businesses have been built on for decades. One thing’s for sure, the desire for flexible working hours among UK employees is growing all the time and is likely to become something that workers come to expect, rather than seeing it as a privilege that is nice to have.
For more information, book your place at Core Values and Human Resources – How values support a healthy organisational culture where you will learn what are values and why they matter to HR, the four types of values and how to choose values to deliver behaviours.