How Flexible Working Can Help Improve Efficiency
As the traditional nine-to-five is becoming a thing of the past, flexible working is doing wonders for small businesses
Flexible working gives employees the opportunity to decide how long, where and when they work. While in the past, staff members were expected to be in the office for the majority of their working week, they now have opportunities to work with reduced hours, flexi time, job share or work from home. This provides firms with a range of efficiency improvements:
- A healthy work-life balance means that staff are more likely to be happy, motivated and free from stress. This will improve absenteeism and reduce health and sickness costs.
- By allowing staff to work around their home commitments, they are more likely to stay loyal to your business. In a recent CIPD survey, 76% of managers said flexible working had improved employee retention.
- By allowing employees to work at the times of day they feel most productive, they can avoid time periods where they feel lethargic or lack sleep. A recent Regus survey showed that one-third of UK office workers felt that work and social commitments were causing them to lose sleep.
- Staff may also be inclined to work harder from home in order to maintain visibility with colleagues, improving productivity further.
- Staff can also cut down on their commuting costs and spend less time travelling to and from work. This is better for the environment and will increase disposable income, as well as time available for leisure activities.
- By allowing staff to work outside of the office, you can cut down on the amount of desk space necessary. Shared-desk polices can reduce your office space requirements and reduce energy bills.
Advancements in technology now mean that employees can work and communicate anywhere: teleconferencing facilities allow employees to speak with colleagues and clients from their own home and cloud technology means you can access company documents via the internet, rather than via in-house servers.
Working from home may mean that employees are now contactable round-the-clock, with work e-mail access and telephone calls assumed to be acceptable from home. Working hours can potentially stretch further than the usual 9am-5pm, which could become intrusive, particularly for employees in relationships or with children. Others argue that working from home makes it more difficult to achieve promotion because your workplace visibility reduces.
However, overall, flexible working is generally considered to be beneficial to both employers and staff. Recent research by the Institute of Leadership and Management (PDF) found that 77 per cent of CEOs and 54 per cent of senior managers are now working flexibly, with 82 per cent of managers citing improvements in productivity and efficiency.
This article was written by 120 Edmund Street, provider of grade-A office space for established and emerging businesses in Birmingham.