The Growth Series

Making flexible working work for your business

Now that the UK has seen over a year of working from home, businesses are already seeing employees with an increased interest in flexible working policies. Flexibility over where and when they work has become a significant priority and major contributor to employee satisfaction. 

Not all flexible working looks the same. For some it’s being able to choose their working hours, for others it’s being able to work from home when they need to. This means that even the definition of flexible working needs to be flexible.

Read more: How to manage your team remotely


The benefits of a flexible working policy

Implementing a flexible working policy, rather than returning to the more rigid ways of working pre-Covid, has numerous benefits for both employees and businesses. Some of these benefits include:

  • Helping more people access or stay in full-time work - From people with children to people with disabilities, many find it difficult to make an in-office 9-5 job work for their situations. When able to access a flexible working policy, they can make a full-time position work.
  • Attracting new talent - Flexible working is one of the most desirable perks businesses can offer at the moment. Top-tier talent will be seeking out businesses that can provide it.
  • Improving job satisfaction and loyalty - With flexible working, employees often find themselves with a better work-life balance. This increases their satisfaction and makes them much more likely to stay with a business. 
  • Reducing absenteeism - Because employees can use flexible working to get their work done when they feel well and can work from home when under the weather, they are both more productive and less likely to spread infection.
  • Increasing employee well-being - All of the above contributes to increased well-being for every member of your team and happy employees are also the most effective employees.

Read more: Wellbeing for profitability


The challenges of flexible working

Although the benefits of flexible working are abundant, there are absolutely challenges that come along with it. Not all teams are as prepared for the transition to flexible working as others. These tend to be the areas with which a company might struggle:

Collaboration and Communication

One of the primary reasons that businesses have refrained from going fully remote is the desire to increase collaboration. The ease of quickly turning to your teammate to have a conversation is hard to match with video calls. Introducing and embedding new communication tools is key here.

Culture and New Hires

Many businesses are concerned that a flexible approach to work means an enormous shift in culture that would especially impact new hires. It shouldn’t change any part of your culture based on values and is more likely to affect things like approaches to meetings and accountability. Make sure meetings are accessible to everyone in and out of the office. 

Read more: How do you reward people?

Performance Management

Keeping performance strong through flexible working requires a well-considered strategy. Since picking up new knowledge and skills from teammates can be more difficult in remote and hybrid settings, you may want to create a more formal mentoring or coaching programme. 


Implementation tips

To make the process of implementing a successful flexible working policy in your business smoother, here are a few simple tips you can try:

  • Overcome collaboration and communication problems by using tools like Slack and Teams to make contact from anywhere easy.
  • Creating a formal flexible working policy makes it easier both for employees to make use of it and to ensure that it doesn’t have a negative impact on the business.
  • Introduce alignment meetings to keep different parts of the business on the same page.
  • When bringing on new hires, be sure to hire for values fit - someone whose behaviours align with the values of your business is less likely to spend their time unwisely.
  • Consider project management tools like I Done This or ClickUp which can help with accountability.
  • Determine core hours to create a better sense of unity amongst the team.

A note on keeping teams motivated while flexible working:

Keeping teams motivated during periods of change can be tricky even without the complication of flexible working. Many business owners, particularly in more traditional sectors, feel that not having everyone in the office may lead to less productivity and a loss of motivation.

Flexible working is likely to have a longstanding future in the world of business. Although there may be some challenges that it presents, there are also unequivocally benefits as well. Take these tips for implementation and set up a flexible working policy that really works for your business.

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