January 30th 2015 marks seven months to the day that the Government introduced new legislation giving employees the legal right to request flexible working options. Now that these rules have been in place for several months, businesses should, at the very least, be fully conversant with the legislation and should be aware of the benefits that flexible working can bring to staff and to the organisation as a whole.
For some, such an approach will undoubtedly mark a radical departure from existing work patterns and ‘the way things are done’. But any fear of change should be countered by strong evidence that such an approach leads to happier, more productive employees. A recent Regus survey found that having the freedom to occasionally work away from the main office is seen as a key factor in achieving a good work-life balance; two thirds (66%) of respondents believe workers that have this flexibility are happier. The experiences of those lucky enough to be able to work flexibly further support this. Three in five (62%) say they are more content now that they work outside the main office some of the time. Giving staff flexible working options also shows employees they are trusted. This, combined with an improved work/life balance, will make them more likely to stay with your organisation for longer.
Flexible working also contributes to improved productivity. For example, our research has found that transport related problems such as traffic jams, strikes or roadworks cause some of the most frequent working day interruptions. Working flexible hours or at a location closer to home can help to minimise these disruptions, enabling staff to focus on the job in hand.
Many businesses make the mistake of believing that flexible working is synonymous with home-working, which brings with it its own challenges. The home environment is full of distractions, may not have the right facilities (such as IT capabilities) and employers have little control over the health and safety of their staff (which they are still responsible for wherever that employee may be working).
In fact, flexible workspaces, such as those offered by Regus, are available all over the world. These facilities offer workers a local, professional, purpose-built workspace. Our members tell us that working in this way means that they have the flexibility to work wherever and whenever it suits them, allowing them to make the most of their time and reach optimum productivity.
Whilst many companies may be daunted by the flexible working legislation, it is now unavoidable. Indeed, businesses will find it far more beneficial to embrace the changes and seize the opportunity to create a more flexible, productive, happy and loyal workforce.