Whilst talking with a candidate recently we discussed the reward package, she quickly moved the subject on to flexible working and how her time would be managed in the role. This is hardly a surprise as flexible working arrangements are the top employee benefit with almost half (49%) of workers saying flexibility and work-life balance will be the most important benefits to them in the future. (Personnel Today)

Whilst an employee can request flexible working after 26 weeks of continuous employment, these requests are often made prior to employment. People want flexibility from day 1 with it to be built into the fabric of their role and the organisation. Remember that flexible working is not just reduced/part-time hours, but includes full-time employees working on a more flexible basis, e.g. different start and finish times, compressed hours or working from home.

As a firm believer in flexible working and the benefits it can bring to an organisation, I believe it’s time to consider your stance on this important topic. This can, however, present some challenges and key considerations which will need to be thought through, some of which are highlighted below:

  • IT – Access to computers and portable technology can represent a significant cost for business and with the GDPR legislation increasing the control of the way data is accessed, this can present a significant challenge for businesses
  • HR – Being able to effectively support an organisation spread over a larger geographical area, and when people work more flexibly provides challenges. Consider how to organise partnering meetings, training and development interventions and how you will ensure you’re there when people need your help. By allowing people to work flexibly, you may also find that people work too much, creating an “always on” culture, which is equally as bad for your business
  • Business Operations – People working flexibly can have significant challenges in certain types of business; especially if you’re customer facing or need people to support at the end of the phone. You also need to consider how meetings take place and how you progress projects that require multiple stakeholders. Managing a remote team requires additional skills from a line manager, you’ll need to think about how will you upskill your existing management team

Whilst the above highlights just a few flexible working considerations, the big question is whether or not you want to make the change, there are often workarounds (some of these at a cost) to overcome these problems.

Business leaders need to face up to the reality of flexible working and the requirements of the “modern day” workforce. Long gone are the days of presentism and working the standard 9am – 5pm, or even 8am – 6pm day!

If your organisation isn’t seriously considering flexible working as part of your reward strategy (or working to implement it) you’re already behind the curve. This will lead to disengagement in your teams, cultural challenges and you’ll struggle to attract the top talent your business really needs!

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Last Updated on 4 years by Gary Parsons

Author: Gary Parsons
Gary is CEO at Talk Staff, passionate about the role that people play in helping build long-term and sustainable businesses. He sits on local business advisory boards and has been key in leading the growth of Talk Staff from inception in 2009.