Posted by Robert Half on 21 May 2015
Do you prefer to have all your employees sat at their desks where you can micro-manage them or are you a macro-manager with a more relaxed management style? If your company remains committed to employees working at their desk, you could be missing a trick. The business benefits of flexible working are becoming more apparent throughout the UK. Our recent research revealed flexible working has increased by more than a third (37%) in the last three years.
In the digital age, advances in technology have enabled employees to share files, communicate with colleagues and collaborate on projects, without the added burden of a commute or distractions at work. It's no longer the case that every employee needs to be in the office to be productive. In many cases, managers are actively communicating to their employees the benefits of flexible working opportunities. Here are several key business benefits:
1. Reduced costs
Hot-desking' schemes are becoming increasingly popular allowing employees to use communal seats and computers on the days they come into work. This gives businesses the opportunity to increase headcount without having to increase location size.
2. Increased productivity
If an employee has the ability to work remotely from home, they save time on the commute, meaning they may be inclined to start work earlier and finish later. Nearly two-thirds (60%) of HR directors have seen an increase in productivity, further demonstrating the business benefits of flexible working. Conscious of the need to prove they can work effectively from home, and justify the arrangement, many employees work harder than ever to deliver results. The morale boost gained from flexible working and improving their work/life balance can see employees improve their performance.
3. Increased creativity
Happy, motivated employees - those who are grateful for the chance to work flexibly - may be more inclined to engage with their organisation and make a valuable contribution. In fact, over half (51%) of UK HR directors think greater employee autonomy boosts creativity amongst their employees. Working in a different way can encourage professionals to 'think outside the box' and be more innovative. Some employees may become more actively involved when they are in the office, and more willing to offer up creative ideas. These could relate to work processes, ongoing projects or general life within the office.
4. Ease of management
If employees are eager to work flexibly, they will aim to cause as little disruption as possible, minimising the input needed from their manager. If employees can prove they are easy to manage on a non-standard shift, further flexible working opportunities may arise. In most cases, professionals simply get on with their work; they will be heard from when they need to collaborate with colleagues or managerial input is necessary.
5. Improved wellbeing
Employee wellbeing is a key concern for many managers as it impacts retention of key people. Offering flexible working to employees can boost morale and improve their physical and mental wellbeing. When staff members work from home, they are likely to be less tired and better rested, reducing the risks of fatigue, burnout and stress. As a result, they will be able to give their all on a daily basis.
6. Staff retention
Many employees see being offered flexible working as a sign they are a valued employee. Those who have other responsibilities or out-of-work interests may see this as being an absolute must or a deal-breaker for any organisation they work for. The business benefit from offering flexible working is that it may assist retention efforts.
7. Attracting talent
Some professionals actively look for jobs that will allow them to work flexibly. It could be that they have childcare responsibilities or voluntary commitments, and are looking to achieve a better work-life balance. Offering flexible working opportunities can allow employers to recruit talented professionals who would otherwise have been out of their reach.
Should you offer employees flexible working?
The potential benefits of flexible working for employees are well-known - including an improved work-life balance, greater autonomy and improved morale. But it's important for employers to recognise the business benefits of flexible working programmes too. It's not just staff members who stand to gain from such initiatives, as organisations can reduce costs, improve output and increase loyalty when schemes are implemented in the right way. When flexible working is used appropriately, with the necessary level of buy-in from both employers and employees, it can be to everyone's advantage.