How to Implement Flexible Working
The workplace is not what it once was. It’s goodbye to the routine of 9am to 5pm and hello to a new dawn; flexible working. As the digital landscape has grown over the past ten years, so has our lifestyle demands – we have become a 24/7 world. These demands continue to impact the services and products that businesses offer, employees have become much savvier in their approach to work.
The work routine of old dictated that employees arrive and leave at the same time each day, but the new environment employees find themselves working in simply doesn’t align with this mindset.
Thanks to technology, employees are able to work wherever and whenever they want (often providing they can access an internet connection), and with legislation introduced in 2014 enabling all employees the right to request flexible working after 26 weeks’ of service workplaces are becoming more flexible than ever.
According to a survey, at least 76% of the UK’s employers offer some form of flexible working; and with a third of UK workers wanting flexible working, it is fast becoming a fundamental part of the modern workplace.
The UK government website states that the types of flexible working include; job sharing, working from somewhere that isn’t the company office, part-time hours, compressed hours, flexi-time, annualised hours, staggered hours and phased retirement. Despite such an extensive list of options, just 5% state that they are job-sharing, working compressed hours or adopting term-time working with 54% reporting they work flexibly in some form.
So, with flexible working a growing trend and workplaces keen to introduce the policy, how should your company ensure that work standards are maintained, deadlines met and productivity unchanged?
We spoke to Bradfield HR to find out more.
Attract and retain the right talent
From the get-go, you should be ensuring that you employ the right talent for your business, and once you’ve hired a superstar, then you aren’t going to want to let them go. Offering a flexible working policy can help to improve an employee’s happiness and give them greater control of how and when they work. And with the workforce set to become dominated by millennials by 2025, younger talent are challenging the traditional patterns and customs which previously consumed the office; keeping employees happy should be a priority for your business.
If you’ve employed the right talent, then they are unlikely to abuse such a policy, but it starts with your investment as an employer in their wellbeing at work. If you ensure that an employee feels valued at work, has a voice when it comes to work affairs and is truly invested in the business then they are going to continue to strive to reach their potential.
Plan a strategy
Once you feel that you have the right employees in place, you should begin to devise a strategy as to how you will roll out your flexible working policy. Are you introducing a company-wide policy, allowing an individual to do so or a whole team? You will also need to establish which elements of flexible working you are introducing. Are you going to have core hours’ where employees need to be in the office? Can they work from home? Or can they condense their hours so that they work fewer days?
At this stage, you will also want to consider if you want to introduce any metrics to measure productivity and work standards. Work output is likely to vary from individual to individual, so you may want to look at setting monthly targets which need to be met if this isn’t something you do already.
Introduce a trial period
Running a trial period can be a great way to test flexible working in your business and enable you to identify any issues with your policy before you implement it fully. You could test it on certain employees or departments to see how both the business and employees are affected.
To fully test it, you should aim to introduce a trial period for a minimum of one month to allow you to gather true data on your policy. Once it’s over look at the data you have gathered. Was productivity maintained, lower or higher? Were employees happier?
One of the key elements of introducing flexible working is to ensure that everyone communicates with one another in the same way that they used to in the traditional office environment. Use tools such as Skype and Slack to allow remote workers to keep in touch with team members in an instant, and provide training for those who are unsure how to use this technology.
When employees are working at different times to one another, instant messaging and communication tools can help to keep those lines of communication clear. Post company or project updates in chats so that when an employee logs on to begin their working day they are able to catch up on any updates they should be aware of.
It’s also essential that you work to keep the team spirit alive in the company. When employees aren’t in the office all at one time together, communication gaps can occur. To combat this issue introduce daily update emails or phone calls and weekly face-to-face meetings.
Appoint a HR champion
If you want to ensure that your flexible working policy is introduced smoothly and executed without a hitch, then appointing a HR champion can help your business to achieve this vision. A dedicated HR person will be able to oversee the policy so that all managers are well educated on the policy and able to ensure that team members adhere to it.
If you’re a start-up or SME then you may not have a person solely dedicated to HR in your office, but outsourcing this element can be of great benefit to the running of your business and wellbeing of your employees. Having a HR professional in your office will help to provide a consistent HR presence and provide you as an employer with the correct guidance required, as well as reassuring employees with any other HR concerns they may have.