Thinking about offering flexible working policies for your staff, but not quite sure how to get started?

If August is a quiet month for you, it might be a good time to spend reflecting on your working patterns and practices, and how to make them work harder for the business.

Flexible working can be a really efficient way of doing business for your company. Giving your employees more freedom about where and how they work can directly lead to reduced absenteeism, increased productivity and greatly enhanced employee engagement and loyalty.

The facts bear it out; a study by Regus found that 70% of managers saw an increase in output after implementing flexible working and recent research from the CIPD has shown that implementing flexible working practices can improve staff engagement and motivation.

Even in these tough economic times, top talent will always have other options, so offering this kind of flexibility can be a sure fire way to keep your staff happy and more willing to stay with your business in the longer term. And if staff retention and attrition is a costly problem in your business, consider this – a recent survey by workingmums.co.uk, showed that 18% of mums had to leave their work when flexible working was not allowed.

However, even 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 in management, a business culture that just doesn’t encourage working outside of the usual office setting, and a lack of the appropriate technology to facilitate it. So if flexible working isn’t something that you’ve had any requests for it might not necessarily mean there isn’t an appetite for it amongst your employees – it might be worthwhile considering whether your workplace culture doesn’t appear supportive to the idea.

So, is flexible working a truly 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.

So, if you are 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 an initial discussion, on how flexible working could benefit your business.