Flexible working hours is one of the most requested (and often expected) benefits that candidates look for in the workplace. If their current employers are not offering and practicing it, many will look for new roles that “do” and “will” offer that flexibility. One of the most common protests we hear against instituting a flexible working initiative is that employees would take advantage of it. However, when you really break it down, the positives far outweigh the drawbacks. Here’s why.
Flexibility is Becoming More of a Necessity than a Luxury
More businesses than ever are implementing flexible working as a strategic move, rather than as an employee benefit. As people realise that longer hours don’t necessarily translate to higher productivity and work-life balance becomes a higher priority, people are becoming more selective regarding where they work. Companies that make flexible work options available are having an easier time attracting talent and on a daily-cost level, are saving costs on office space, supplies, and utilities.
If you’re hesitant to implement a flexible working initiative, keep in mind that for many people the allure of flexible working isn’t working from home three days a week. It’s being able to come in earlier and leave earlier so they can pick up their kids, or starting and finishing a little later so they can get a morning run in without pressure. Some people won’t want to work flexibly and that’s fine on a day-to-day basis, as there’s no replacement for people working together in a shared environment. But this isn’t about replacing the office; it’s about giving people the option and taking away the fear that they’ll be reprimanded for leaving early to make the school run.
Results, Results, Results
Workplace flexibility can have many positive results, like engagement, productivity, morale and commitment, all of which help to produce better outcomes. In particular, women in flexible roles have been shown to be the most productive in the workforce.
The key is that when people are able to better balance their work and outside lives, they’re happier, and happy people get more done. There are many examples of employers who have embraced this, reaping the benefits, both in terms of employee happiness and balance sheet harmony. Netflix, for example, have afforded their employees unlimited leave since 2004 – it doesn’t seem to have harmed them!
You Get What You Give
The reason that some organisations are hesitant to institute flexible working initiatives is also one of the reasons it can be a great thing. When employers entrust their teams with workplace flexibility, it creates a greater notion of trust and respect and respect will be returned. This in turn builds significant employee investment and a stronger culture. Put simply: when employees are granted trust and control over their work lives, they feel valued, and that benefits everybody.
It’s Not About Flexibility, It’s About Creating Trust, and Accountability
Let’s say the worst-case scenario occurs and someone does take advantage of your flexibility policy. With so many ways to measure productivity nowadays, it’s difficult to argue that one bad egg is worth holding back your workforce, particularly when most employees show an increase in productivity and morale.
In Closing and More About What It’s Like to Work at People Equity
Integrating flexible working can be an enormous change. While it’s a change that most people will be excited about and eagerly welcome, it does need to be implemented properly, with the right procedures and standards around it. From increased morale and productivity to greater trust and respect, it’s hard to ignore the benefits of flexible working, and soon, you may not even have a choice in the matter.
At People Equity, we all set the bar high in terms of the service we provide to our candidates and clients, and in the daily and weekly goals we set for ourselves. I expect the team to work flexibly, as I know this gets the best out of them for all the reasons outlined above. For the times and days, we are all together, we fully maximise this ‘team’ time, however as each single team member has differing requirements, personal commitments and travel distances to and from the office, what’s equally important is being “smart” about our time and maximising every minute of when we are “on.” That’s how it works best for us, it’s a winning formula and it’s a key part of what it’s like (and the expected way) to work at People Equity.