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Creating a flexible working policy

Why and how your company and its employees can benefit from a flexible working
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Why and how your company and its employees can benefit from a flexible working environment.

Flexible working looks set to become the norm. Companies that lag behind in implementing a good flexible working policy for their employees will be seen as increasingly undesirable places to work (as well as being outperformed by more agile competitors). There are many benefits of allowing flexibility, not least when it comes to talent retention and employee motivation. But flexible working done right is not something to be taken lightly.

Reasons for having a flexible working policy

Very few organisations who actually practice flexible working or have a flexible working culture have a set policy. This is a mistake. Having a clear but simple policy will allow a level footing. In the eyes of your policy, all employees should be equally valuable and deserve the same treatment when it comes to flex working.

Also – did you know that employees who have worked with you for at least 26 weeks have a right to make a statutory application for flexible working? Your business is required by law to consider requests reasonably, and only turn it down if there is a business reason for doing so. 

Two key benefits of flexible working

Flexibility drives performance – The most willing are enabled to work more efficiently and those less productive have fewer places to hide.

Flexible working breeds loyaltyCreating a flexible working structure demonstrates that your business is dedicated to creating a positive working culture (a key element in hiring the top 10% of candidates).

Be clear on measurement

You’ll also need to think hard about how you measure performance. If you haven’t already, discuss some new and measurable goals with the employee and work out a valid timescale for delivery.

Structure a working policy

A flexible working policy doesn’t need to be lengthy to be effective. To help you get started, here is a draft working policy you can download and adjust. Every organisation will have a different rhythm and we encourage you to work through your flexible working policy with a representative sample of your team.

There are 4 key areas to consider:

  1. Remote working
  2. Core hours
  3. Mandatory appointments
  4. Good practice technology and tooling

Whatever you choose as your policy in each area, be sure to justify your decision with a solid rationale.

Getting the basics right

But before you start – make sure you at least have the very basics in place. In essence – make sure your policy is fair, universal and remember:

  • Flexibility works both ways – It comes with time-management and scheduling responsibilities that the professional will need to commit to. It’s perfectly fine to negotiate, to make a counter-offer and attempt to reach a compromise that works for everyone.
  • Flexible working policies should apply to everyone. Be consistent – this can’t be a perk just for a few. Apart from the logistical nightmare you’ll create for your business, it’s also going to lead to significant resentment from others.
  • Fridays aren’t necessarily the day to work from home. ‘Working from home Friday’ is a common yet contradictory policy. It somehow implies that working from home is a lesser task than working from the office. Not everyone’s working rhythm is the same ie: you’ll want to do tasks that don’t require face to face collaboration on a Friday. This doesn’t allow for the variables of individual workers. Some professionals may excel at independent strategy work when by themselves at home, with a preference for doing this at the start of the week. Others may use the home environment for working through more routine work and may prefer this mid-week.
  • Work from home policies should bot just be for senior employees. In this scenario, high performance is rewarded by opportunities to “work from home”. This creates a hierarchy and cements an assumption that “work from home” indeed means have a rest.

We hope the following two links will assist you further in your flexible journey:

You can download a draft flexible working policy here >>

Or download our guide to a productive flexible working culture here>>

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Romanie Thomas

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