Since the pandemic, employees have had a mindset shift when it comes to work, with many valuing work-life balance more than ever before. This has led to companies needing to re-evaluate how they work, offering some form of flexibility for employees to work remotely, whether that’s through a company-wide arrangement or on a case-by-case basis. Let’s take a look at the changing landscape of flexible work arrangements and why it’s more important now than ever before.
What is meant by flexible working?
Flexible working simply means offering your employees alternative working arrangements or schedules from the traditional office-based 9-5. This offers staff the choice to work hours that suit their needs, whether that’s working from home for a portion of the week and the office the rest of the time or working part-time hours.
What are the different types of flexible work arrangements?
A flexible work policy can look different from one employee to the next. The type of arrangements people organise with their employer include:
- Part-time hours
- Working the same number of hours in a week but starting and finishing earlier
- Similarly, starting and finishing later
- Compressed hours, where you work the same number of hours over fewer days for example, if they have a 40-hour contract, they may work 10 hours on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, giving them Friday off
- Job sharing, where two or more people work one role together
- Term-time work, so you don’t work during school holidays
- Working in a coworking office closer to home instead of the company headquarters
- Working core hours where all staff must be present, but allowing staff to start and finish when they please, for example, employees may be required to work between 10am and 2pm, so could work 8-4, 9-5 or 10-6
- Choosing your own hours as long as the work gets done, rather than having to adhere to core hours
- Annualised hours, where you need to work a specific number of hours per year rather than per week or day
- Working from home, either full time or part-time
- Staggered hours, where an employee has different working patterns from their colleagues. for example, if everyone else works 9-5, they may be able to work 8-4
Flexible work arrangements benefits
There are many benefits to offering flexible working, both for employees and employers.
Benefits of flexible working arrangements for employees
There are a million different reasons for flexible working arrangements. Whether it’s starting work later to take children to school in the morning, working part-time for health reasons, hybrid working due to a long commute, or a multitude of other reasons, one of the biggest benefits to employees is that it offers them a better work-life balance. A 2021 Randstad study of over 9,000 UK residents found that the most important thing when it comes to choosing an employer was work-life balance for 65% of people. This was the top factor in choosing to work for a particular employer, ahead of salary at 64%.
Benefits for employers
It’s not just employees who benefit from flexible working. With a better work-life balance comes increased productivity, with 9 out of 10 employees considering flexible working to be the key driver in how productive they are at work – even more than financial incentives, which was key for 77% of staff. More productive staff means the potential to earn even more revenue as an employer.
It’s also crucial to offer flexible working hours if you’re serious about keeping existing staff and finding new ones. A study by Aviva found that 63% of employees are more likely to stay with an employer who offers flexible working, and if you’re seeking to hire new talent, then it also opens up a wider pool of candidates.
Flexible working is also good news for employers looking to reduce absence rates. With increased work-life balance, employees can better manage their workload, particularly if they have disabilities, long-term health conditions or mental health conditions.
Finally, for employers, flexible working can lead to reduced overheads. If you have fewer staff members in the office full time, you may need less office space. You could move to a smaller shared office or even a co-working space – perfect for start-ups and growing businesses.
What is the process for flexible working?
All employees have the right to request a flexible working plan. What is a flexible working plan? It’s the agreement between an employee and their employer that sets out the details of their arrangement, whether it’s working set days every week or an annualised contract.
According to the UK government, any employee can make a ‘statutory application’ if they’ve worked continuously for the same employer for the last 16 weeks. This must be done in writing, and the following steps should be followed:
- The employee writes to their employer, stating that they’re making a statutory request and outlining their requirements for work hours. They must also state how they think it could impact the business. If they’re requesting every Wednesday off, for example, they must show how the potential impact of this could be managed.
- The employer must respond within three months. If they agree with the request, they should write to the employee outlining the agreed changes and a start date for the new arrangement. They must also update the employee’s contract to reflect the changed circumstances.
If someone has worked in a role for less than 26 weeks, they may make a ‘non-statutory request’. There aren’t any set rules and regulations about this, but it’s recommended that such requests are also made in writing.
Flexible work arrangements can have a huge positive impact on both employees and employers. If you’re ready to start offering more flexible options to your staff, reviewing your office space could be a great space to start. Whether you’re based in London, Edinburgh, or anywhere in between, we have options for businesses of all sizes and set-ups. Get in touch today to find out more.