Origami fortune teller on laptop in office concept for work life balance choices

Flexible working is being embraced by more and more businesses to allow their employees to enjoy a greater work/life balance.  This is a great way to provide flexibility around normal working hours by customising start and finish times and allowing the option to work externally from the office. This is particularly beneficial for workers who have young families, the need to care for another individual or take part in sports and hobbies during typical working hours. By law, all employees are eligible to request flexible working, providing they have worked for the company for at least 26 weeks.

Flexitime

There are a number of ways that flexible working can be implemented, the most popular type within organisations is flexitime. This allows the employee to adapt their own working hours instead of being restricted to 9 to 5. This can allow for school drop-offs, supporting an elderly relative with a hospital visit or leaving early or late to avoid a bad commute. Overall employees are expected to work their contracted hours within a set timeframe but the approach to when these hours are worked can be adapted to suit a particular routine. With a new focus on employee wellbeing, businesses are even starting to consider flexible working to allow for hobbies and sports during the working week.  This provides a significant boost in employee morale and satisfaction, allowing them to create a balance between work and social commitments.

Job Sharing

A different example of flexible working methods is job sharing. Again, this is beneficial to both employees and the organisation as a whole. For individuals, it provides the opportunity of a balanced schedule, relieving stress and, in turn increasing productivity, split between two people. For employers, they will gain two different approaches towards the same job. Not only does this enable fresh, unique ideas to be put forward, it also increases the likelihood of keeping two skilled employees within the company. These employees may previously have left their positions to pursue a career that offers a balance between their work and private life.

Advantages of Flexible Working

The main attraction of flexible working for employees, is the freedom to customise their working hours to meet individual needs as well as personal obligations. This approach provides the opportunity for workers to care for young families whilst returning to work or take part in social activities that may otherwise clash with their typical work schedule.

A particularly stressful time of day for workers, is the commute to work. In many business areas, the commute time can be in excess of an hour, causing severe problems for employees during their travel to and from the office. The option to change their start time, or even work from home, immediately takes this away from someone’s daily routine. Consequently, this would lower the level of stress placed on an individual, resulting in an increase in productivity and overall job satisfaction.

By implementing flexible working, employers are providing their workforce with a greater level of freedom, responsibility and trust. By doing so, staff will become increasingly proactive and have a greater relationship with colleagues and management within the workplace. This strategy also sets a company aside from industry competitors, who may not offer the same policy to their staff. As a result, this will allow the organisation to appeal to and recruit, a greater number of skilled business professionals who wish to adapt their own working hours.

Disadvantages of Flexible Working

Of course, as with anything, there are some disadvantages to flexible working. Managers often put a significant level of trust into their employees by allowing them to work flexibly, be it their own hours or the location of work. There is the possibility that people may take advantage of this and become distracted when working from home with Netflix, games consoles and other family members around them. In some cases, this could prove a difficult approach for a company to manage. This is an easy barrier to overcome, however, regular team meetings and one to ones provide frequent updates to keep everyone in the department aware of what is going on whilst keeping track of ongoing projects and setting targets for the department.

Flexible working may have its fair share of advantages and disadvantages, but the benefits significantly outweigh the limitations when it comes to this approach. Supporting this work style makes a company stand out from competitors, by taking care of their employees’ wellbeing and recognising the need for a good work/life balance, then employees and potential employees will feel valued and loyal. Flexible working is a concept that looks set to continue to grow amongst organisations nationwide, and companies who offer it will undoubtedly witness a happier workforce along with the retention of valuable employees.

For more information on remote working read our blog post “The Rise of Remote Working“.