So how might companies solve their flexible working conundrums?
There are many considerations that need to be managed when considering flexible working. Talking to staff about their preferences and asking them to consider best business practice in their thinking can yield some interesting results.
Here are a few top tips to prompt thoughts about the future of flexible working in your company.
Take notice of other surveys and reports. According to Paychex, a US payroll service almost 60% of workers felt it was difficult to separate work from life. Is that how you want your employees to feel?
How important is flexibility to life in general?
Should you be creating working practices and environments that are flexible and constantly shifting to suit needs of staff and the business? Would it be workable? Could you manage scheduling when undertaking this? Have you assessed the pros and cons?
Should you have different working patterns depending on seniority?
Are rigid schedules actually delivering for you now?
Would something different make your organisation more attractive for a prospective candidate?
What would you do if people report that their work and personal time overlapped unacceptably?
What strategy might you employ to allow employees to track hours worked?
How will you manage communication with people working different hours for example?
Have you considered, different demographics within your company? Do Boomers, Gen X, Millennial and Gen Z think differently about new ways of working? Have you asked?
Do different career stages affect the need for f2f meetings and guidance? Have you taken this into account?
12. Do you know what proportion of candidates looking for a new job would consider flexible working as one of their criteria for selection?
13. Have you considered any security, logistic or health and safety implications with respect to hybrid working? Is everyone clear about what is expected when splitting their time between work and office?
14. Have you managed ergonomically designed furniture for those working from home?
15. Have you relied too much on technology for meetings? Is everyone still comfortable with this? What mental impact does remote working have for employees’ mental health?
16. Is your online security the best it can be? Are you keeping data secure when your teams continue their hybrid existence?
17. What precautions have you made for remote and effective IT support?
18. What expectations do managers and other team members have with respect to work ethic and trust? Has it been explored verbally or is it implied?
19. Is there any agreement around structured working timetables? What is your policy regarding answering calls, texts, or emails outside traditional ‘office’ hours?
20. Do staff feel they understand the company’s expectations? Have they changed at all since the pandemic?
21. Did you know that staff wanting hybrid arrangement, have the right to request flexible working if they have worked for you for more than 26 weeks? Are you up to speed with legal considerations?
22. How effective are your risk assessments for workers returning to the office? If 'hot desking' is a thing will all equipment and furniture be wiped down hygienically after each use?
23. How appropriate is a vaccination policy within your company?
24. Have you verbalised the pros of working as a community? How much was gained or lost from remote working? Is it something you wish to see continuing?
25. Finally, decide whether you simply tolerate flexible working or see it as the future. It’s worth making the decision now about how your business is planning to work moving forward.
26. To conclude ask yourself if you really need staff in the office - it's disappointing for people to trek in to find an empty space.
In a number of specific niches there is definitely a war on talent
Employers and businesses need to set their house in order. After all, benefits in kind, culture and flexibility may well prove to be differentiators that candidates find difficult to ignore when making job decisions. The pandemic provided a full stop, or at least a semi colon regarding legacy employment practises. Therefore, now really is the time to consider carefully what happens next. What do you think?
Images by: Andrew Neel and Jean-Philippe Delberghe