Here at The Urquhart Partnership we are becoming more and more aware of how the working day, or indeed the working week, is changing for so many of us and especially from the more traditional hours we worked when we first stepped into the work place.
Yes, today we’re talking about flexible working.
Most employers will agree that certain times of year, week or indeed each day, are busier than others; does an individual need to be visibly present during the quieter times? If not, then perhaps flexible working can be considered.
So long as both the employer and employee can agree to what the quieter times are then potentially it’s a win – win situation.
The right for flexible working, to be considered seriously by an employer, currently lies with parents of children either under 16, parents of disabled children under 18 and carers of adults. However, there have been recent indications that this is something the Government may consider extending to all in the future.
Often flexible working requests made by employees will compliment what an employer actually needs. For example, an employee, who is a good performer and cares about their role and the work they do, may suggest hours that support the role and fit round their requirements outside work too.
Flexible working can help with retention, increased productivity, morale and even reduce absenteeism.
There are many forms of flexible working in support of this:
- Change in type of contract
- Job Share
- Time off in lieu
- Annualised Hours
Flexible working is not just for carers but many companies introduce it as a benefit for employees so that it can fit around the lifestyles of those studying, with time constraints on hobbies, commuting issues or trying to meet their own work life balance.
Mike Watson, Director of the Soap Factory, a flexible working hub based in Aberdeen notes: “More and more people are looking for a better balance between their work and their personal life and flexible working can certainly help in this regard. When you don’t have to commute and when you are able to work flexibly round your personal situation then worker happiness can skyrocket and with a happy worker the productivity can also increase significantly.”
For flexible working to work, like all things, planning is required, as is buy-in and commitment from employee and employer. Possible additional costs have to be taken into consideration from the outset and increased effort must be made to ensure individuals, out with the normal working hours, continue to be made to feel part of the team.
As always, communication (the lack of which being the downfall of many a situation) is so important not only with the individual but with the rest of the team. Everyone needs to be aware of how work is being covered, managed and how the arrangements affect them.
Mike continues: “As with all work related situations, the process of introducing flexible working – whether it is flexible starting times in a traditional office environment or working from home – it is crucial that the boundaries, the management tools and resources are put in place to make it work both for the employer and employee.”
Trial, trial, trial
If there is doubt from either party as to whether a change in working pattern would in fact work, then it’s recommended that the change is managed for a trial period.
Of course, the decision lies ultimately with the employer and if it can be clearly demonstrated that the trial is not working then it’s back to the drawing board or normal working times. Legally, the following reasons are allowed for refusal:
- the burden of additional costs
- detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand
- inability to re-organise work among existing staff
- inability to recruit additional staff
- detrimental impact on quality
- detrimental impact on performance
- insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work
- planned structural changes.
If you are interested in find out more information on flexible working in the UK, why not take a look at the following websites: