By Bostjan Bregar, Co-Founder and CEO, The 4th Office
In a move to create a more agile workforce in the UK, the Government recently introduced legislation that opens up the possibility of flexible working to thousands of employers and employees. This means that as of 30th June 2014, any employee in the UK with over 26 weeks service can make an application for flexible working, and the businesses must consider these requests in a “reasonable manner.”
This might sound like it is weighted in the favour of employees and will just create added pressure for employers to deal with, but if handled properly, businesses of all sizes can embrace flexible working to create a results-driven, engaged workforce that will really help drive the business forward. So what are the real benefits of flexible working for a business?
Giving individuals the opportunity to work in a way that suits them can empower employees to be as productive as possible. You can trust employees to find what allows them to work most efficiently for themselves and then judge them on their output, rather than worrying that you have to keep an eye on them at all times. That might mean allowing them to work remotely or on compressed hours, but this could allow them to shut themselves away from distractions to focus on key tasks.
By giving employees the technology and infrastructure to work from anywhere, you are equipping them to respond quicker to opportunities or customer problems. In the digital age, particularly since the rise of social media, customers increasingly expect complaints and queries to be dealt with promptly, and flexible working can enable this to establish a reputation of excellent customer service for your company and build customer loyalty.
Entrusting employees with the freedom to work in a way that suits them best is a great way to make them feel valued. This sense of empowerment can be hugely motivating, and has also been proven to build company loyalty which will help a business to retain key talent and establish a reputation as a great employer.
If you were to survey a group of employees about what they would like to change about their work, the stress and cost that comes with commuting would inevitably come high up on the list. Giving people the ability to work remotely can reduce or completely cut out these pressures, and could even give a typical full time employee as much as 400 extra hours of time each year to use for something more productive.
Having the infrastructure to support remote working, businesses are also freed from geographic limitations when it comes to recruitment. In today’s connected world, an employer can potentially access the best talent pools wherever they are in the world, and give them the opportunity to make a real difference to the business with the freedom to fit work around their lifestyle.
As more and more business functions are moved to “the cloud” companies are now able to make huge cost savings. “Hot-desking” can mean much less office space is required, immediately reducing one of the biggest business overheads without cutting the hours or productivity of staff.
The cultural benefits of flexible working can also help reduce business costs significantly. Creating a workforce that is happy and engaged with the company will improve both staff retention and absenteeism due to decreased workplace stress.