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There are many positive and negative arguments surrounding the issue of flexible working, leading some business owners to question whether it’s time to introduce it in their workplaces.
What is flexible working?
All employees with 26 weeks of continuous employment can submit a request for flexible working, and employers have a duty to consider them.
Flexible working is, on the face of it, an employee’s right to ask to change their working hours or days, or to work from home.
There are, however, a number of different formats this can take from simply moving start and end times earlier in the day, to carrying out term-time working or job-sharing.
The complexity that arises from a simple request means that whether it works depends on your business.
Flexible working: a good idea?
Many businesses no longer solely operate during the traditional hours of 9-5. If your business works around the clock, you’ll need a workforce that can adapt to these demands.
Even if the majority of your staff work office hours, some might want to work early mornings, late nights, or weekend shifts to suit their lifestyles or personal commitments.
If your business provides a service over standard hours, this doesn’t mean that flexible working isn’t suitable.
Being willing to adapt ways of working and considering alternative hours will have a positive effect on your staff. There are many personal reasons an employee may wish to work flexibly. They might want to reduce their commute time, or have childcare responsibilities.
A positive culture which trusts employees and shows that their personal commitments are recognised, and understood, will set your business apart.
Reservations around flexible working
It is, perhaps, straightforward to state that flexible working does not work in organisations where business demands can’t accommodate flexible working arrangements.
Flexible working requests can only be rejected for specified business reasons, and you might think that workloads can’t be redistributed amongst colleagues. But flexible working can be suitable for your staff, even if it hasn’t been considered or approved before…
Consider the practical impact of each flexible working request you get, and look at the working arrangement and the impact on colleagues. Otherwise it’s highly likely that your workplace will never change.
Time to introduce flexible working?
This is the real question that business owners need to examine when they are looking at their future workforce.
And the answer, in most cases, is likely to be yes with a culture change, management support and commitment from flexible workers themselves.
When a flexible working request is received, managers should engage in a discussion to see whether it can be approved. There is also the chance to agree a workable alternative which suits both your business and your employee.
A trial period, (usually around three months), could be the way to test if flexible working might be a reality for your future business.
March 14, 2019 at 07:00AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs