It may be time to start thinking about being more creative with the working environment you offer. There are more and more reasons to offer flexible working practices: Fibre Optic Broadband, low mobile calling charges and cheaper technology are playing a major role in our working lives. And with government legislation changing weekly on working hours, maternity/paternity rights to name but a few.
Fitting around school hours can be the top priority for not only new parents, but also job movers and seekers. Don’t think for a second that people with children are less committed, far from it. This demographic can bring valuable skills into your business. Did you know that there is only a 1% difference for workers in the ‘high skill level position + degree educated’ that have dependants vs not? (Labour Force Survey, ONS)
Pets @ Work
OK so this one is a little tongue in cheek… we ourselves have two resident pups in the office. But did you know that dogs can actually reduce stress levels and bring a more calming environment into your workplace?
I’m writing this article in my home office / children’s play room. The children are running riot (supervised!) in another part of the house and I’m tucked away working quite happily… although being watched over by the stuffed bears can be a little disconcerting.
The benefits are numerous; lower overheads (I’m not drinking the office coffee), consistent and/or flexible working hours (the house was empty so I started an hour early), a fresh and ready to go mindset (I’ve not got road rage from two hours on the M5), attracting a more diverse range of employees, cutting your company’s carbon footprint and the CSR story that your firm can promote – the list goes on. All of it is great, but the number one reason for offering flexible working; happy, productive employees.
Here are some tips on making it work for you:
Assess the suitability of roles that could be flexible… for home offices you’re mainly looking at desk based roles.
Assess the employee personally. They should be self-sufficient, hard workers. Junior Joe Bloggs from accounting, who needs pulling in from his numerous kitchen chats a day, is really not your best bet. Pete the super-star web developer, who spends most of his day plugged in, is.
Audit the working space. Find out when, where and how. Someone with slow internet, no phone line, no computer and a house full of other people, isn’t going to get their hours in.
Discuss with the team. Although supervision may not be needed, meetings and discussions may very well be. Ensure that the team in question are getting what they need, when they need it. Flexibility works both ways, the employee may be needed in the office at times.
Review it. Just because you offer flexible working, does not mean you can’t retract it. If it’s not working for you, discuss and plan an alternative.
It’s scary I know and there has to be 100% trust on both sides. But offering flexible working solutions can lead to higher productivity, retention rates and quite possibly a better work/life balance for you too!