According to studies, the modern British worker wants a flexible working arrangement, but just 6% of job adverts actively promote it.
This isn’t surprising, but it is somewhat discouraging in a digital economy that offers numerous tools and communication methods that promote flexible working hours. People want better work-life balances, too, and if the businesses for which they work are unable or unwilling to offer them that, they’ll quickly look elsewhere.
Why isn’t it surprising? Consider the ‘9 to 5’ working environment, which is as traditional as they come. It has been in operation for decades and offers security for both the business and employee; there’s a significant degree of reassurance that comes from knowing exactly when staff will arrive and depart each day, thus reducing friction and enabling projects to be planned within consistent timeframes.
In the digital age, however, the 9 to 5 feels a bit old-fashioned and restrictive. As previously noted, huge advancements in device and cloud technology have spawned countless tools and ways of communicating that enable most of us to work from anywhere and at any time, providing we have an Internet connection.
There’s no escaping the fact that flexible working doesn’t suit every industry or individual, but its benefits should be given full consideration.
To help you decide whether or not flexible working is right for your business, we’re going to look at the key benefits it offers and how you can implement it.
The top 10 benefits of flexible working for businesses
1. Staff satisfaction
As noted previously, modern workers want to operate outside of the 9 to 5 realm. They want a better work-life balance and the ability to choose the hours during which they’re likely to be most productive.
The request for flexible working hours is all too easily dismissed as a request to do less or spend less time at the office, but in reality, it is simply an employee seeking a higher level of satisfaction from their role, and only good things can come from that.
2. Lower hiring costs and turnover
Satisfied staff are more likely to hang around, thus reducing turnover and the subsequent hiring costs that follow.
Equally, if you’re seen as a business that actively promotes flexible working, word will get around and enable you to hire people far quicker – again reducing hiring costs.
3. Reduced carbon footprint
With fewer people travelling to the office on a regular basis and far less equipment being used each day, you’ll quickly reduce your reliance on energy.
This offers two benefits; firstly, you’ll reduce your utility bills (sometimes, considerably), and secondly become a far greener company as a result. Reducing your carbon footprint will ensure you’re doing your bit for the environment, but can also be a valuable promotional tool, too.
4. Ability to choose from a wider talent pool
If you place less emphasis on standard working hours, you’ll open your recruitment doors to a much wider talent pool.
For example, if a particular project needs a skill that you’re struggling to find on these shores, the fact that you’re willing to have remote workers operating during hours that best suit them means you can look to foreign countries for the best talent.
5. Raised productivity
People who work flexible hours do so when they feel most productive. For some, that will be first thing in the morning before most people have exited their beds. For others, it might be late at night.
Whenever people feel productive, they should feel empowered to get on with the job in hand. If they’re bound by standard working hours, they’ll be far less likely to do so, or – worse – burn the candle at both ends, thus working longer than is strictly necessary and seeing the quality of their work suffer as a result.
6. Increased product and service quality
If employees are allowed to work when they’re at their most productive, the quality of their output should improve dramatically.
There’s nothing worse than being forced to work on something when you’re not at your best, and hours spent toiling away on projects at half-mast simply because your hours dictate you have to will almost inevitably result in an end product that needs to be revised.
7. Better teamwork
Teams that operate on a flexible working basis are more likely to work cohesively together. Because they all operate under the same flexible rules, they’ll appreciate when they need to step in to offer cover.
For example, if someone needs to take a few hours out of their morning in order to tend to an important family matter, the remaining team members will understand and provide the relevant cover, because they know the same would happen it they had to do the same.
8. No more succumbing to mother nature
If your business is based in the UK, you’ll know how ill-prepared the country can be when it comes to dealing with adverse weather conditions.
During the winter, the ever-present threat of snow disrupting proceedings at work can be completely negated if flexible working is introduced.
Snow blocking you in? No problem – you can simply grab your laptop and work from the comfort of your dining room table without fear of being reprimanded for failing to make it into work or having to take an unexpected day’s holiday.
9. Reduced IT overheads
The bring your own device (BYOD) culture has infiltrated many workplaces, with employees keen to use their own laptops, smartphone and tablets in order to get work done.
While BYOD presents a number of security challenges for IT teams, they can be overcome, and if you’re able to invest in the right form of device management software, enabling people to use their own devices to be productive both while in the office and at home will significantly reduce your business’s reliance on costly onsite servers and devices.
10. Happier employees
Perhaps most importantly, flexible working will make your employees happier.
Flexibility breeds happiness, and a happy staff base is the cornerstone of any successful business. Happy employees are more productive employees – it’s that simple.
How to implement flexible working in your business
If we’ve whetted your appetite for the benefits flexible working could offer your business, you’re doubtless wondering how you might go about implementing it. Thankfully, it’s relatively straightforward, if you abide by the following:
• Invest in the best technology and services. As previously noted, the BYOD culture may enable you to reduce IT overheads, but you still need to invest in the best services and tech that enables employees to work flexibly. That means a reliance on cloud-based services and devices with strong mobile connectivity.
• Make flexible working optional – not a requirement. Flexible working isn’t for everyone, therefore if you offer it purely as an optional working arrangement, you won’t force anyone into doing something with which they’re uncomfortable.
• Promote your flexible working culture to clients. The fact you actively encourage flexible working is a great marketing tool, so make sure you shout loud and proud about it to clients.
• Make it clear your offer flexible working arrangements in job adverts and during interviews. Modern employees are looking for flexible working arrangements, therefore any job postings you create or interview you hold needs to make it clear that you actively promote them in order to avoid missing out on the best talent.
It bears stressing again that flexible working doesn’t suit every industry or individual. However, the list of benefits above should be considered by every business, because if flexible working can be implemented in any small way within your organisation, staff satisfaction and happiness is likely to increase as a result – leading to greater productivity and a higher quality end product.