How to get your business ready for flexible working hours
In many ways the traditional Monday-to-Friday, nine-to-five work day has already been undergoing radical change. Since the middle of last year, new legislation allowed employees in the UK with over 26 weeks of service to request flexible working hours.
As we get fully into the swing of the second workweek of this year, you might find employees looking for a better work-life balance in 2015 are beginning to submit more and more such requests.
Working flexible hours or working from home appeals to the majority of the workforce. A Jobsite UK survey conducted last year reported that 66% of respondents would request flexible working arrangements if they could.
Employers on the other hand, do not all share this sentiment. Giving employees more flexibility demands that businesses are adaptable. Then there are fears of understaffing and underperformance to address – both for business owners and colleagues.
The overwhelming evidence, however, suggests that greater flexibility makes for happier employees and, ultimately, improved productivity.
Of course the cost-benefit calculations will vary vastly from industry to industry and employers are allowed to reject requests if the arrangement translates in higher costs for the company.
Should this be a viable option for your organisation, you will still need to make some adjustments to infrastructure and operations to ensure you reap the maximum benefits.
- Rethink your technology
Just because employees may no longer all be working at a fixed place at a fixed time, does not mean the need for interaction will be eliminated. On the contrary, employees will usually have a greater need for connectivity and communication.
Technologies such as video conferencing, instant messaging and cloud-based project management and document sharing tools will be more necessary than ever.
Your teams may already be using this tech, but it’s a good idea to ensure this becomes a well-enforced organisational norm before you grant more flexible hours. It will make the transition that much easier.
Increased use of chat tools also means a quieter office with a better paper trail and making documents available remotely will significantly improve productivity of your teams when they are on the move.
- Organise face-to-face meetings
UK-wide meeting room providers i2 Office report a growing demand for meeting spaces, specifically more casual business lounges. They argue in their blog that despite growing popularity of virtual office services, meetings remain very important business tools.
As companies are increasingly working flexibly, the need to meet face-to-face is actually greater.
With meeting room facilities that can easily be rented by the hour, remote teams can meet up regularly to catch up and strategize. It will also help to counter some of the potentially negative effects of virtual working, restoring a sense of cohesion among teams.
- Consider a virtual office
This new legislation changes not only the workplace dynamic but also, inevitably, the structure of the office. Some companies may be able to eliminate the need for a physical office entirely, renting meeting rooms only when needed.
A virtual office can meet all telecoms needs at a fraction of the cost – screening and redirecting calls, and can stand in for a physical address for post and deliveries.
A move to more flexible hours may seem like a major and highly inconvenient shakeup to any company, but in an era of gruelling commutes and harrowing office rental prices, being forced to rethink your logistics can’t be all bad.