Working flexible hours, or flexi-hours as they’re often called, is a practice which has been increasingly used by many companies since the early 1970’s. With the advent of the digital age, home-computers, and the internet, a greater number of companies are looking at ways to increase company profitability, while improving job satisfaction amongst their employees.
Improved Company Employee Relations:
Many companies have turned to flexible working to better relations with their workforce, retain staff, and reduce sick-time. We live in an age where family responsibilities and work commitments have to be prioritized by many employees. These additional concerns can induce greater levels of stress, reduce output, and promote higher levels of sick leave. All of which have a negative financial effect for the company.
For many employees, the chance of working from home, beginning their working day a couple of hours earlier, or later, can make all the difference when juggling work and family commitments.
Even on the shop floor. If staff have to spend an hour or two commuting to work on crowded roads or packed trains, they’re not going to be in the best frame of mind to put in their most productive day’s work. The option of starting earlier or later, and finishing the same, may be all it needs to reduce travelling time, relieve stress, improve morale, and increase output.
Work from home is the ideal situation for a large number of today’s workforce. Given the opportunity to do so, they provide higher levels of commitment and increased output. Working their own flexible hours they are more likely to start earlier or finish later should work load require, while taking thirty minutes off to take the kids to nursery school.
Many couples have found one partner working full-time, and one part-time, is the ideal way to manage family and work commitments. To take full advantage of this, companies are ‘sharing’ many office positions, allowing two members of staff to share the same job, desk, and computer, while splitting the working week between them.
The greater the number of staff able to work from home reduces the need to expand to larger premises with all the additional costs involved. While employees working fewer hours, so as to attend to personal or family needs, will feel greater company loyalty, and provide higher output.
Moving from Normal to Flexible Working:
Changing company practices from the normal 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. hours, to a flexible mode of operation, requires consultation with staff on all levels, including the factory floor. Most company bosses agree that, although the move can be challenging, it is not insurmountable.
Of prime concern to any business is keeping good customer relations. Maintaining continuity of commitments and delivery dates, while endeavoring to satisfy employee flexible working practices, can prove demanding in the early days. With the change in working practices, employees need to be kept up to date on company policy. They need to be aware of customer needs and those of their work colleagues.
While some may be allowed to work from home, others may not, and this could cause resentment between staff. The reasons need to be adequately explained as to why one can and one can’t, to avoid any build up of ill feeling.
Should the move to flexi-hours require certain staff members taking on additional responsibilities, adequate training needs to be put in place to provide a more versatile workforce.
A major change in Working Practices:
Although moving from normal to flexible working practices is a major change within any company, it doesn’t need to happen all at once. Many companies today work a mixture of both, bringing in flexible working where possible, while maintaining a normal working week where it is not.
Good communications are the key to any major change in policy. Discussing all concerns with employees; why the company wishes to move to flexible working, the employees job security after the move, and why some can go flexible and some can’t. Treat the workforce as a team with a ‘we’re all in it together’ attitude, and face concerns using a team approach, will usually resolve these genuine concerns.
The Boss remains The Boss:
From a management point of view, seeing half the workforce going flexible doesn’t mean you only have half the workforce to worry about. Ensure staff, with their new found independence, realize they still have a boss to answer to – company commitments to follow – and a work ethic they are expected to adhere to.
A win-win situation:
Carried out correctly, a move to full or partial flexible working can be a win situation for both company and employees. The company gains from reduced costs, saving money on having to obtain larger premises. With a less stressed, happier workforce, productivity increases, time off sick reduces, and a greater number of skilled staff are able to be retained. Many professionals these days actively seek flexible employment, accepting lower remuneration in return for greater time with family, or to pursue outside interests.
Employees benefit from a better balanced lifestyle. The difficulty of juggling home and family with a need to provide an adequate income is removed. They become happier, more relaxed, and family relationships improve. For all concerned, a win-win situation.