As people progress through life and their circumstances change, it can become increasingly difficult for some of them to commit to a conventional 9 – 5 working day. This can put them at odds with companies that are reluctant to accommodate changes in their lifestyle. Such businesses insist on keeping things as they are simply because that’s how they’ve always been.

Fortunately, however, a growing number of progressive businesses are catering to their staff’s shifting priorities and needs by offering flexible working arrangements. Advances in technology, namely faster internet speeds and improved video conferencing capabilities mean that flexible working practices aren’t only more feasible but they may be preferable too for both companies and employees.

This post looks into what flexible working is, as well as its benefits and drawbacks.

What is flexible working?

Flexible working is an arrangement that gives employees varying degrees of influence over the hours that they work. It encompasses several things including:

  • Flexitime
    • Having flexible start and finish times depending on an employee’s preferences. This will usually be from a selection of set, core hours during which your business operates.
    • Completing a set number of weekly or monthly contracted hours in any way an employee chooses to. For instance, an employee could ‘compress’ said hours to complete them in a shorter amount of time.
  • Working from home
  • Working part-time
  • Job sharing
  • Hot desking

If your company decides to implement flexible working hours, it’s best to create a formal policy for your employees. This policy will contain details of your company’s flexible working practices and how employees can take advantage of it.

Advantages of flexible working

Happier employees

By giving your staff greater control over when they do their job can lead to a significantly happier workforce. Implementing flexible working practices shows your employees that you value them and have empathy for their personal circumstances. Consequently, you’ll have higher staff retention rates, as fewer employees will feel the need to seek work elsewhere when they have a favourable situation where they are. Having content employees and a low turnover rate is bound to result in a positive company culture.

More autonomous employees

Flexibility in when and where employees work means more time working without supervision. Now, while there is a risk that some employees may not work as hard as under normal circumstances, many will benefit from their increased independence. Better still, being left to work alone can help them develop confidence and make them feel more competent at their job.

An additional perk to offer employees

Flexible hours are another benefit that you can use to attract talent to your company or to entice them to stay. In fact, increasing numbers of employees would prefer flexible working to a salary increase.

Disadvantages of flexible working

Despite its many advantages, flexible working isn’t without its drawbacks as well. Which include:

Adjustment period

It can take a little time for both the company and the employee to the new arrangement. For the company, it’s having immediate access to the employee (i.e. being able to walk over to their desk to engage them) and for the member of staff, it could be working from home or adjusting to new working hours.

Less team integration

There is something to be said for coming into an office and being in close, physical proximity to your co-workers. If an employee regularly works from home or has different hours to their colleagues, they might not form the same bond that they otherwise would.

Harder to keep track of employee activity

Tracking staff absences and managing resources can be difficult without throwing flexible hours in the mic as well. To effectively keep track of all your employees’ whereabouts, and efficiently manage resources, it’s best to utilise absence management software that allows people to determine who’s absent, who’s working from home, and the hours a particular member of staff is working.