02/05/2014

By David Saul, Managing Director at Business Environment,

In April France made headlines in the UK for a new law that banned employees from answering work emails after 6pm. Of course, it turned out to be a massive exaggeration of the truth with only certain employees within certain unions affected by a new agreement on working hours. What it did do however, is reignite the debate surrounding how we achieve a work/life balance in today’s digital age.

On June 30 the UK’s flexible working regulations will change for good. Anyone who has been in a job for more than 26 weeks will be able to ask their employer to consider letting them work more flexibly – a right which currently only applies to carers and parents.

Requests can be wide-ranging and include anything from working from home and doing job shares to working compressed weeks. Employers aren’t obliged to say yes, but they can’t ignore requests either.

The news has been met with mixed feelings in the business community. When plans were first announced the CBI was quick to express its reservations saying that flexible working ‘isn’t practical for all businesses’. And while this is a valid point, research by the CBI in July 2013 also found that firms can save up to 13% of their workforce costs by embracing more sophisticated and less rigid working practices.

In my experience flexible working can have a hugely positive effect on staff. People are often juggling the demands of social and work life, with smartphones and remote access to emails blurring the lines between the two. The fact is people need a break – or at least a way to make the distinction between home and work life clearer.

The IBM Smarter Workforce Institute recently published a study showing that using flexible working to achieve a better work life balance can have benefits for both employees and employers. It found that flexible working not only improves job satisfaction and employee retention, but is also linked to fast career progression. For employers, a more engaged staff results in more productivity and higher profits.

Of course there’s no one size fits all. Take each request seriously – even if you end up saying no – and fit flexible working practices around both your business and employee’s needs. We may not be clocking off at 6pm each night, but with the right approach we can all achieve a better work life balance.
02/05/2014

By David Saul, Managing Director at Business Environment,

In April France made headlines in the UK for a new law that banned employees from answering work emails after 6pm. Of course, it turned out to be a massive exaggeration of the truth with only certain employees within certain unions affected by a new agreement on working hours. What it did do however, is reignite the debate surrounding how we achieve a work/life balance in today’s digital age.

On June 30 the UK’s flexible working regulations will change for good. Anyone who has been in a job for more than 26 weeks will be able to ask their employer to consider letting them work more flexibly – a right which currently only applies to carers and parents.

Requests can be wide-ranging and include anything from working from home and doing job shares to working compressed weeks. Employers aren’t obliged to say yes, but they can’t ignore requests either.

The news has been met with mixed feelings in the business community. When plans were first announced the CBI was quick to express its reservations saying that flexible working ‘isn’t practical for all businesses’. And while this is a valid point, research by the CBI in July 2013 also found that firms can save up to 13% of their workforce costs by embracing more sophisticated and less rigid working practices.

In my experience flexible working can have a hugely positive effect on staff. People are often juggling the demands of social and work life, with smartphones and remote access to emails blurring the lines between the two. The fact is people need a break – or at least a way to make the distinction between home and work life clearer.

The IBM Smarter Workforce Institute recently published a study showing that using flexible working to achieve a better work life balance can have benefits for both employees and employers. It found that flexible working not only improves job satisfaction and employee retention, but is also linked to fast career progression. For employers, a more engaged staff results in more productivity and higher profits.

Of course there’s no one size fits all. Take each request seriously – even if you end up saying no – and fit flexible working practices around both your business and employee’s needs. We may not be clocking off at 6pm each night, but with the right approach we can all achieve a better work life balance.