Time to embrace flexible working

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Today new legislation on flexible working comes into force in the UK. Employers now have a duty to consider flexible working requests from staff who have been employed by them for over 26 weeks.

Some employers are understandably wary about the potential implications of introducing flexible working in their organisations. But as Heather Greig-Smith the editor of the new magazine Flexible Boss argues “true flexibility isn’t individual accommodation, it makes business sense”.

Heather Greig-Smith

The first issue of Flexible Boss is packed full of positive case studies showing how flexible working can be successfully introduced into a whole range of different organisations. However as Heather Greig-Smith points out there is still a long way to go before every business embraces flexible working. “When we reach a tipping point when a lack of flexibility is unusual, the dinosaurs will be forced to confront, if not their extinction, then their diminishing ability to compete in the modern world”.

Research on flexible working

In fact there is a growing body of research that demonstrates the benefits of flexible working. In 2010 the British Government published a report entitled Flexible Working: working for families, working for business which concluded that flexible working resulted in

  • Higher productivity
  • Increased employee engagement, commitment and loyalty
  • Reduced costs – primarily through reducing turnover and absenteeism
  • Lower carbon footprint by removing the need for everyone to have a long commute every day

The Government’s research has been echoed by a whole host of private sector studies. The British Chambers of Commerce found that 58 per cent of small to medium sized enterprises reported improvement in productivity when they introduced flexible working. And a study by Cisco, the multinational computer networking giant, found that flexible working would help them to attract and retain staff. Forty percent of Gen Y respondents to a Cisco survey said they “would accept a lower-paying job that had flexibility with regard to communications device choice, social media access, and mobility rather than a higher-paying job without this flexibility”.

Making flexible working work

The new legislation provides an opportunity for many more organisations to embrace flexible working. For flexible working to be a success, and deliver real benefits for businesses and staff, employers need to think about:

People – have you got the right policies and practical arrangements in place to support flexible working?

Culture – does your organisation have a culture which supports and encourages flexible working?

Technology – have you got the tools in place to support flexible working, so that all your staff can ‘work out loud’ and easily share information with each other wherever and however they are working.

At Work Out Loud we have have the experience to help you address these issues. Contact us to find out how your business could benefit.

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