…. and some more besides.
There are many forms of flexible working. There is flexibility in terms of place – where we work, and flexibility in terms of time – when we do the thing that we do. There’s homeworking and coffee shop working and flexitime and term-time and compressed hours and annualised hours and job shares.
Whatever the type of flexibility we are talking about, it is increasingly clear that flexibility is desired by the many and not the few. For organisations, this isn’t about family friendly stuff, but about inclusion and talent. Despite this, many employers (or more specifically in my experience, managers) still favour the traditional 9-5 type approach for many types of work. Having their people where they can see them.
Here are 5 reasons why organisations should support flexible working:
- Employee engagement. People like flexible working and want flexible working. Providing it, providing the opportunity for more balance, better commutes, less stress – is going to help towards a more engaged workforce.
- Inclusion. Fathers who want to be more involved with the care of their children, individuals with disabilities who might find a rush hour commute impossible, carers, or those with significant family responsibilities. Whatever the reason for not wanting – or being able to – work traditional office hours, flexibility can help level the playing field. See following point.
- Talent acquisition – offering flexibility gives you access to a greater pool of talent. It makes your employer brand competitive. You can hire the best person for the job – not the best person for the job that can get into your office and work your normal contractual hours.
- Talent retention. Engaged employees are less likely to want to leave. Ditto employees who have a working pattern that works for them and their family. Engaged employees are less likely to want to leave. It’s all connected……
- Cost. For those organisations that can embrace entirely flexible and mobile working this can lead to the need for less office space. Fewer desks. Lower rents. And there are those employee travel costs too. How many empty desks are there in your office when people are out and about?
- Life Work Balance. The often long and grinding commute. Stress of the school run. The worry about who will look after the kids if…..and so on. Flexible working can, in my own personal experience, lead to healthier, happier staff.
- Productivity. Not everyone works effectively in traditional office hours, or in the typical office environment. Allowing people some flexibility around when and where they work, when they are most creative or productive – this is a mind-shift change from judging people on how long they are in the office to what they achieve.
For some roles at least, to be effective all we need is a laptop and a wifi connection. The tech is already there – it’s about maximising its potential. Flexibility shouldn’t be an employee benefit, reserved for the lucky few. For those organisations and role types where it is possible, flexibility isn’t a perk – it should be a strategy.
Although I think point 1 is actually not a reason for promoting flexible working (which is a different debate) – the rest are an excellent set of reasons. In fact, I think we should be going further – rather than promoting flexible working we need to change our thinking by identifying that minority of roles that can’t be done flexibly, and assuming flexibility for everything else.
so a win-win then!