The pros and cons of flexible working

More and more job seekers are looking for flexible work, as traditional working environments are increasingly becoming a thing of the past. A wide range of employees want to access flexible working arrangements for a number of reasons such as having a better work-life balance and being able to commit to other personal commitments such as family ties.

The good news is that many UK businesses are also now offering flexible working arrangements from part-time hours, job sharing and career breaks to working from home and phased retirement. Flexible working can have many benefits for employers too, including increased productivity in employees and a decreased sickness absence.

So what are the pros and cons for employers and employees on flexible working and is it something you would consider?

The benefits – employees

  • Flexible work options can help employees achieve a better work-life balance and can dramatically reduce the costs and time associated with travelling to and from the workplace. Many employees want this option so they can balance their personal commitments such as studying, family and hobbies.
  • It puts the employee in control. If employees feel they have a choice over where they work or how long they work for, it engages them more in their role and they are generally happier at work.
  • It reduces the likelihood of stress. Flexibility encourages regular breaks, time off work, and working from home which can all lead to reduced stress levels at work. And you know we don’t like stress!

The benefits – employers

  • It gives business owners an opportunity to attract and retain talented employees who want to access flexible work. It creates a flexible company culture which values the needs of their employees.
  • It provides more focused work, greater employee engagement and higher productivity levels. It can help to boost employee morale and increase happiness in the workplace
  • It can help to build trust and a much better working relationship between an employer and their employees.

The challenges – employees

  • Certain employees need a structured environment to thrive at work. It can be hard to motivate yourself if you are not in a work environment and become easily distracted.
  • It can be hard to switch off if working from home. It can be really tempting to log on at 11pm at night when that urgent email comes into your inbox!
  • It can be lonely. Many people enjoy a work environment and having banter in the workplace – working from home can isolate people and make them feel like they are missing out on the fun.

The challenges – employers

  • It can be difficult to manage performance fairly across full-time and part-time employees and especially if people are working from home regularly.
  • It can get in the way of team meetings and affect communication if people are away from work which can affect team working.
  • It can be easy for an employee to “slack off” with their work if they are not in a working environment with management over-looking their workloads.

It’s a tough one really, and depends on the needs of the employer and employee. Our advice is to make sure it works for both parties and to be clear how it should work from the start. Rules and guidelines should be set out at the beginning and regular meetings are essential. Commitment is key on both sides of the party and it must be fair – if you are giving one employee the opportunity to work from home, consider how your other employees might feel if they haven’t been given that option as well.