Flexible working isn’t just a good idea for employees. Find out why employers too have much to gain from enabling their staff to exercise their flexible working rights.
With the changes to the flexible working legislation last year, the topic is more pertinent than ever. And yet, still, many companies dread the subject, fearing that ‘flexible’, means fewer hours worked, less commitment, less control and a negative impact on their bottom line.
However, recent research by Regus shows that over two thirds of UK professionals (72%) no longer see fixed hours as suited to their duties, suggesting that the concept of 9-5 day in the office is outdated.
Richard Morris, UK CEO of Regus explains why companies shouldn’t fear flexible working, and instead have much to gain from it.
Five important benefits of flexible working
The fact so many employees find ‘regular’ hours no longer suit their roles should prompt more employees to embrace flexible working practices. But what benefits does flexible working potentially bring them?
Here are five important benefits that no employer can afford to overlook.
1) A better work-life balance
There’s no dispute about the desirability of work-life balance. Without it, health and relationships suffer, stress levels soar, and work productivity falters.
Flexible working patterns enable employees to adapt their working hours to fit their lifestyles including family needs, personal obligations and life responsibilities.
2) Less stressful commutes
Some employers make homeworking part of their flexible working strategy. Having the freedom to work when and where you want eliminates stressful, time-consuming and expensive commutes.
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 employees to focus on the job in hand.
3) Fewer childcare costs
The spiralling cost of childcare requires special attention. A recent report by The Family and Childcare Trust found many parents are paying more for childcare annually than the average mortgage bill.
According to the report, average fees for one child in part-time nursery and another in an after-school club are £7,549 per year; meanwhile full-time childcare cost for a family with a two-year old and a five-year-old will set you back £11,700 a year.
Without having to pay child-minders to be involved in certain activities such as the school run, flexible work legislation means childcare hours and costs are reduced.
4) A feeling of being in control
Having greater freedom to choose their hours and where they work, flexible working can increase feelings of personal control among employees.
Consider two different offices:
- In one, you have people who work ten hours a day with no freedom to choose their start and finish times, and whose working hours are bordered by a stressful 60-minute commute each way.
- In the other, you have people who work ten hours a day, but at times that suit their family circumstances, and at a convenient location five minutes from home.
It’s no surprise that many are opting for the latter in light of recent changes to the flexible working legislation.
5) Less stress and burnout
Stress is an insidious enemy affecting sufferers with a range of problems from sleepless nights to more serious conditions such as high blood pressure, heart conditions, diabetes, asthma and skin ailments. But it’s not just employees who suffer – stress can also affect a company’s bottom-line.
Although the workplace can be a key source of stress it is also the place where important stress-busting changes can be made. By allowing workers the freedom to manage their own working hours or location, businesses can relieve worker stress but also take an active part in making the working environment more family friendly.
Flexible working is unavoidable today
While many companies may still be daunted by flexible working, it is now unavoidable.
Indeed it establishes benefits for both the employee and employers. And 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.
Richard Morris is UK CEO at Regus, the global workspace provider which is working with employers of all sizes to help them find a solution to flexible working.