If you are part of the modern working world, then you’ll definitely have heard of flexible working. It is currently one of the most talked about topics within the workplace, and it is becoming expected that it is offered within modern organisations.
In fact, if you aren’t offering flexible working hours already, you should probably consider how this policy could work for your company. Most businesses have now implemented a version of it in order to encourage a better work-life balance for their employees. If you are one of the few organisations without such schemes, high quality candidates, which we all know are so hard to come by in this job-rich market, could favour another employer who offers it.
In short, a lack of flexible working initiatives equals a lower competitiveness.
The truth is that we are working all the time. The internet does not switch off, and most employees are now always online and contactable. I check my emails probably too much in the evening, and will reply almost straight away to anything I can action. Even on holiday, it is difficult to switch off. I know this is a personal choice, but it works for me.
Others will work differently, and like their set hours from 9-6pm; they won't check their emails outside of these hours. This is also completely acceptable, because what works for one person may not work for another. This is the case when it comes to flexible working as well.
Whether you have a doctor’s appointment, a school play to attend, a flight to catch or have family visiting, offering flexibility around important appointments and dates can equal happier employees, and motivate them to succeed in their jobs. It’s also likely to reduce stress on employees, and therefore should be encouraged.
But how do you stop this from affecting the culture and performance of your team in the long term when it is becoming more in demand?
In a sales environment, we often find that we thrive from each other’s energy. Therefore, whilst flexibility is key, we must still be aware of team culture and how it may be affected from day to day. If everyone worked remotely 24/7, we wouldn’t need to have an office. We also wouldn’t learn from each other, motivate each other, have a culture, or be able to share our ideas and knowledge.
In reality, it wouldn’t work, or we would all be doing it.
Another thing which is crucial to consider in relation to flexible working is accountability. If an employee is performing and knows what is expected of them, they should feel confident to deliver, regardless of where they are working.
At the same time, there should be no shame in an employee’s decision not to rely on their ability to work away from a conventional, focused office environment; not everyone has the same motivation or need to work flexible working hours, and everyone is productive in different spaces. However, having the option to do so, and the opportunity to assume responsibility of their work, is key.
It is also key that a leader takes control if an employee’s work slips because of flexible working. Disengagement, being distracted or simply working on a tangent from their objectives are all dangers associated with flexible working, and leaders must watch out for this as much as the employee themselves.
If you want flexibility to work for you and your employees, you need to empower them, and allow them step up and use it. At the same time, employees must be made aware that performance still has to be achieved through flexibility.
What flexibility do you offer within your company, and what has or hasn't worked for you?
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