Companies are shifting to a flexible work schedule. Are you ready to make the change?

Did you know as an employer you have an obligation to consider flexible working requests from your employees? Flexible working arrangements are becoming much more common, especially since technology has made it easier for people to work remotely. Preconceptions of flexible working being the domain of those with parenting responsibilities are also waning. There are many reasons why employees may want to consider flexible working.

Shift planning software has made it easier for employers to accommodate flexible working practices and track hours. Shift planning is a great example of a collaborative tool designed to help businesses effectively manage this new approach.

Let’s take a look at what flexible working is, how you can implement and manage schedules, and the advantages and disadvantages of accommodating flexible working in your business.

What is Flexible Working?

Flexible working covers any working pattern that deviates from the norm. This could be a change in the total number of hours an employee works, changes to the start and finish times of an employees’ working day, or a change in their place of work. Promoting a healthy work/ life balance is widely accepted to be highly advisable in the workplace, and flexible working goes a long way toward achieving this.

Shift work, temporary work, and term-time work also count as flexible work. According to Citizens Advice, flexible working arrangements can come about from a wide range of different scenarios, including a change from full-time to part-time work, changing working hours to fit in with children at school or caring for a relative, or compressing the same hours into fewer days.

Who Can Ask for Flexible Working?

Most employees are able to make a request for flexible working. There are two ways to ask for flexible working: 1. statutory and 2. non-statutory.

Statutory requests are made according to the law on flexible working. Statutory requests can only be made by existing employees who have been working continuously for the previous 26 weeks. There are some instances where employees are not entitled to make a statutory request for flexible working, such as those in the armed forces.

Anyone can make a non-statutory request, but the procedure is not guided by law. This also means employees don’t have to work for 26 weeks before making a request. Non-statutory requests are dealt with at the discretion of the employer.

How Do You Implement Flexible Working Arrangements?

Two of the biggest hurdles for managers when implementing flexible working is in managing operational pressures and meeting customer demand. There is also the issue of organizational culture and line manager attitudes that may need to shift if flexible working is to effectively work for both employees and the business.

Monster, an online recruitment firm, recommends everyone at the top is in agreement before implementation. A lack of senior-level support won’t change the culture within the business and any attempt to offer flexible working is more likely to fail. It’s also really important to consult with staff when implementing flexible working arrangements. Start with a pilot scheme, introduce clear guidelines and reviewing the arrangements regularly.

The Advantages for Employers

Flexible working arrangements can help your business. Here’s how.

  • Open for longer hours—we live in a society that doesn’t sleep. Increasingly, businesses are required to operate at all hours of the day. Flexible working offers advantages to both employer and employee. Employers can keep their business running for longer hours, and employees can choose the hours that give them the best flexibility to fit in with life outside of work.
  • Save on costs—if flexible working provides employees with the option of working from home, the business can save on overhead.
  • Attract employees—flexible working arrangements is an attractive proposition for future employees. It can help you be a business people want to work for.
  • Reduce staff turnover—flexibility with working hours means you won’t lose good staff when their circumstances change and they need to reduce hours or change the days they can work.
  • React effectively to demand—with a culture set up for flexible working, you will find it easier to expand and contract as demand changes.

The Disadvantages for Employers

While flexible working can bring many benefits to a business, there are also some disadvantages.

  • Team spirit can suffer—teams still have to meet and colleagues can benefit from the support and camaraderie they build with each other. Flexible working can disrupt the amount of time your team spends together.
  • Some people work less—a few may take advantage of working from home, doing less work and watching TV instead.
  • Difficult to implement for some roles—those jobs that are customer-facing won’t be given the same flexibility as other roles within the business. This could cause resentment amongst staff.
  • Continuity of projects—with a greater variety of shifts and working hours, handing over work can become more complicated.

Ultimately, the advantages of flexible working tend to outweigh the disadvantages for both employers and employees.  With a comprehensive implementation strategy and regular review, there’s no reason why flexible working can’t help take your business to the next level.