Most businesses will have had to make some serious changes to the way they work in the past 12 months, affecting both employees and employers alike. Plenty of large-scale employers are starting to see the benefits some of these changes have brought about including employees having the ability to work flexibly. This has now lead to major government ministers calling for flexible working to be normalised, giving employees the option to do things like flexi-time, part-time working and the ability to work from home where possible.
What are the benefits of flexible working?
Research shows that offering flexible working explicitly in job adverts increases applications by up to 30%. This not only opens more opportunities to women (who are twice as likely to work flexibly than men) it can help to reduce geographical inequality as the country recovers from the impact of Covid-19. Some people may not be able to afford expensive housing in the centre of major cities or the long commutes in and out every day which can be off-putting. Flexible working can attract a more skilled or desirable workforce as these factors may not have to be taken into consideration anymore.
This can also be a real benefit to existing members of staff whose personal circumstances may have changed or who may wish to work more manageable hours. If the choice is between working full time or leaving to find an alternative part-time role, you may want to consider such changes to retain valuable staff members, whilst increasing job satisfaction and morale within your team.
Some employers have noticed a difference since remote working became government advice such as greater cost-effectiveness and savings on overheads, however, there can be potentially negative implications that employers will need to bear in mind. Some employees may not work efficiently without supervision or it could create feelings of unfairness when only certain employees have work that can be done remotely when others don’t.
What are the legal issues around flexible working?
In many cases, an employee has the right to request a flexible working arrangement. Whilst offering flexible working can increase competitiveness, within certain industries it just won’t be possible. For the legalities and to understand in what circumstances a business can refuse a request see here.