Guest blog by Jason Downes, MD of PowWowNow
Encouragingly, the number of UK employees finally getting the flexibility they deserve is on the rise, with offerings of flexible working alternatives trebling in the last four years. While a very positive change, work remains to be done when it comes to spreading the benefits of flexibility across every member of a team. Employers have the power to introduce flexibility in a whole host of ways; from giving their workforce the choice of one day a week remote working, to introducing more gradual flexibility, starting at the top and working down to every member of the company. While this is a good place to start, business owners should maintain the end goal of allowing every member of the company to reap the rewards of flexible working, rather than limiting the offering to those at the top.
Higher efficiency levels
Bosses are finally starting to realise that remote working does not automatically mean that workers will be less productive or more readily distracted. In fact, working from home in an organised and disciplined fashion, allows people to balance their personal and professional responsibilities at the same time; teaching them how to prioritise and maintain a healthy work-life balance. As a result of this ability to compartmentalise, statistics show that flexible workers work an average of 6.7 hours more than those who work in an office space every day; dismissing the age-old presumptions that claim the exact opposite. Flexibility also gives workers the opportunity to prove themselves and take ownership of their own tasks, without being prompted to do so.
Lowering your carbon footprint
While initiatives such as cycle to work schemes and encouraging employees to take public transport are positive changes when it comes to caring for the environment, home working alternatives will provide more immediate, tangible environmental benefits; thanks to fewer employees making polluting commutes to work every day. As external emissions reduce, so too will a business’s internal energy outputs. If fewer people are relying on the electronic equipment in your office, your reliance on energy sources will reduce too. Not only will this make your company more environmentally conscious but it will lead to financial savings at the same time.
With flexibility, comes positivity
Flexibility is all about trust. If you give your workforce the opportunity to work outside of the office, you’re making them aware that you trust them, which will subsequently strengthen your relationships and promote company loyalty. With loyalty comes a decrease in staff turnover, as more employees are willing to commit to your company in the long term. This will not only improve the overall reputation of your business, but also save on costs when it comes to recruiting and providing training for new employees. More flexible working alternatives also mean that you never limit access to top talent. It will not just be young city workers who apply for jobs, you will open doors to parents, those who do not have access to transport, and older people too, giving you the best chance of recruiting the most skilled employees possible.
There are various ways in which you can promote a sense of cohesion and unity among your employees, but in order to implement them effectively, you must start by treating all employees equally. When you avoid favouritism or irregularities, you create a sense of togetherness, reducing the risk of social politics that could inhibit productivity. When remote working is put in place appropriately, staff will begin to communicate more effectively, albeit virtually. They will consciously manage themselves more appropriately and take ownership of tasks and teamwork opportunities via various technologies such as conference calling, video calls and phone calls.
It is evident that business owners who adopt flexible working alternatives are in a much better position when it comes to employee loyalty and overall employee productivity. With nine in 10 flexible working firms in Scotland claiming that it’s good for business, the proof is very much in the pudding. Hopefully, this will encourage employers to consider flexible alternatives across the board, in order to harness a positive experience for every individual at their company.