Companies that find themselves receiving more flexible working requests will need to give careful thought to the benefits and drawbacks involved. So from a business point of view, what are the pros and cons of flexible working?
Lower office costs
Having fewer employees in the workplace presents many opportunities to cut costs. There could be less need for computers and other office equipment, for example, and you could also reduce utility bills.
If your business places a big emphasis on flexibility and innovative working methods, it might be possible to gain major financial and efficiency benefits from downsizing your workspace or adopting practices such as ‘hot-desking’ – where desks are allocated to individuals as and when required.
Work flexibility can help employees improve their work-life balance, which makes a big difference to workforce satisfaction. As well as being positive for staff, this is good news for the business because happy workers are more productive and less likely to take time off sick.
How an employer comes across – to existing staff and prospective candidates alike – is critical to its success in attracting and retaining the best talent.
Providing flexible working arrangements helps convey the image that many are now looking for in their employer – modern, progressive, and concerned with the needs of its employees.
Making the right judgements
Many employers are likely to increasingly receive requests for flexible working over the coming years. Not every request can be granted, and the decision-making process can be complex and difficult.
If you find yourself dealing with conflicting requests, are there policies and procedures in place to guide your decision? It might seem rational to prioritise the needs of parents and carers when evaluating multiple requests for flexible working, but this could appear discriminatory against those without children or dependants.
Ensuring ongoing productivity
One of the big concerns many managers face with flexible working requests is guaranteeing productivity. How can you be sure someone who works remotely will be as efficient as they would be in the office?
This is partly a communication issue, which leads into the next point – when people are working remotely or to flexible hours, their managers and colleagues might feel that clear, immediate communication is more difficult.
Lack of contact
While today’s technology can help remote workers stay in contact wherever they are, sometimes there’s no replacement for straightforward, face-to-face communication. Something that may have been resolved quickly with a simple face-to-face discussion may take a lot longer via email.
As work flexibility becomes more common across workplaces, the onus will be on managers and business leaders to ensure teams can still communicate and collaborate effectively.
There’s no doubt flexible working has become more common and that trend is likely to continue. There are many benefits businesses and individual workers can gain, but it’s important to be aware of – and take special action to avoid – the possible pitfalls.
With such a wide range of technologies, new working methods, and communication solutions available to employers today, there’s no reason why flexible working can’t be universally advantageous. However, it’s crucial to think carefully about how you implement any new working methods, with the right policies and systems in place to guarantee positive results for the company and your employees.