The vast majority of workplaces have a structured work week. In the UK many businesses and staff think 9-5 is a given. Yet laws were introduced in 2014 giving employees the right to request flexible working patterns. We’ve seen publications from Forbes to The Guardian reporting on the benefits of four day work weeks, which were actually implemented by KPMG back in 2009.
We’d go one further – what about completely flexible working across the board?
Flexible working as an employee
Flexible working gives you a sense of agency over your work schedule and environment. You can work around your family commitments, personal obligations and health issues.
Highly structured 9-5 environments can make admitting you’re overwhelmed more difficult. Consequently it’s easy to bottle the stress up and burn out. Flexible working gives you the chance to take a break when you need one – without fear of reprisal from management.
Feeling valued and trusted at work reflects in the quality of your output and can give you something to be proud of and the increased feeling of control really does help to minimise stress and increase satisfaction. It also gives you a sense of responsibility and heightens productivity.
How flexible working benefits everyone
Offering flexibility to employees can be a massive plus for your business. Aside from anything else, you’re going to attract more applicants to advertised posts and your staff retention is likely to improve.
Allowing your workers to choose when and where they work affords them a responsibility that really shows how much trust you place in them. Flexible working arrangements can help your employees feel that both they and their work are valued. As a result, your workers tend to be happier and the quality and quantity of their output increases.
It’ll also help you find otherwise untapped talent in the form of highly skilled workers who may by unable to commit to a 9-5 working week.
According to the Economic and Labour Market Review (Vol. 5), women account for 47% of the workforce, and 57% of first class honours degrees are achieved by women. However, many skilled women are pushed out of the workplace as insufficient childcare leaves them unable to work a stringent 9-5 week.
Offering flexible working also opens doors for those with a disability and those who act as carer for a family member.
The law on flexible working
Finally, remember that employees do have a statutory right to request flexible working. Employers must consider such requests fairly. Be aware that refusing a request may be unlawful discrimination under the Equality Act.
Employers can read up on how to handle such requests here. If you’re an employee thinking about making a request, get some handy advice here.