Though more than half of workers are aware of their right to request flexible working, less than a quarter have made a request with their employers, according to a recent study by O2 Business.
The main reasons cited by employees were a lack of trust (chosen by 31% of the 2,000 survey participants), a business culture that just doesn’t encourage working outside of the usual office setting (28%), and a lack of the appropriate technology to facilitate it (20%).
It’s time to think about how you could make flexible working a way of doing business for your company. Giving your employees more freedom about where and how they work can lead to skyrocketed productivity. In fact, a study by Regus found that 70% of managers saw an increase in output after implementing flexible working. Even in these tough economic times, top talent will always have other options, and offering this kind of flexibility can keep your staff happy and more willing to stay with your organisation in the longer term. So if it isn’t something that you’ve had any requests for, or you haven’t rolled out the option for your employees, it might be worthwhile considering whether you’re making the mistake of cultivating a workplace culture that doesn’t allow these positive changes to take place.
First of all, think about whether it’s a realistic option for your business. If you’re running a retail operation, it might simply be the case that you can’t allow workers such as sales assistants to work away from the premises. If the business is office based though, there could be some small changes that can be made to the way day-to-day activities are carried out. Next up, it’s technological issues. How will your staff access the systems they need to carry out their work? It might be fairly straightforward, though some businesses will need to have conversations with their IT suppliers. Contrary to what you might think, you don’t necessarily need to invest masses of cash in this area. If you need to hold team meetings, for example, you could do so using free services like Skype. Be sure to address the issue of security, especially if you handle sensitive information, but don’t make things harder than they need to be.
Finally, consider how you can keep staff accountable whilst they’re away from their usual workplace. Could you have regular check-ins throughout the day? Set your expectations from the very beginning, and make sure your implement the right systems so everyone is on- board and understands the practicalities of your flexible working arrangements. Teething issues can be nipped in the bud, but you’ll need to be on the ball and willing to tweak your approach as you discover more about what works best for your business.
Thinking about offering flexible working policies for your staff, but not quite sure how to get started? I can help you through the process. Get in touch with me today for a FREE 15 minute initial discussion, was to how Flexible Working could benefit your business.