March 2, 2022

How are you talking about flexible working in your Job Adverts? If you don’t mention that flexible working is an option then you’re missing out on huge cohort of candidates. – the leading search engine for jobs – reported that 72% of job searches include terms like flexible working. Only 19% of Job Ads optimised by Get-Optimal in 2021 included this terminology (which is also a very rich SEO term). Here is your Get-Optimal guide to flexible working.

A recent survey by LifeWorks, a leading provider of digital and in-person total wellbeing solutions, has revealed that nearly three in five (58 percent) of Britons value flexible work as more important than career progression.

Make no mistake: the global coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly altered the way that both employees and employers think and feel about the traditional nine to five spent hunched over in an office cubicle.

Flexible working often comes up in conversations with candidates looking for a move. But what exactly is flexible working and will it work for your business.

Find out everything you need to know about flexible working in our ultimate guide.

What is flexible work?
Flexible work is the flexibility to choose when, where and how you work. Put simply, it’s about giving employees more choice over how long, where, when, and at what times they work. This might mean job sharing, part-time working, early finishes or late starts (or even picking your own hours), logging on at cafés and so on.

It’s not just a ‘nice’ initiative that involves organisations putting their people first: it’s a legal requirement. All employees – not just parents and carers – who have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks, have the right to request flexible working.

Types of flexible working
There’s a myriad of different ways of working flexibly. These include:

Part-time hours
Where someone works less than full-time hours, either by working fewer hours in a day, or fewer days in a week.

Shift work
When the working day is split up into different shifts, depending on the needs of the business, be that day or night.

Compressed hours
An employer allows their staff to work their contracted hours over fewer days. As an example, an employee could work 37.5 hours over four days rather than five.

Employees have the freedom to work in any way they choose outside a set of core hours. For instance, an employer may want staff to work between 10 am and 4 pm each day but allow them flexibility at the start and the end of each work day, rather than adhering to a rigid nine to five.

Remote working
Something most of us got used to doing during the pandemic:  working somewhere other than the workplace. This could mean working from home (WTF), a cafe or even overseas.

What does flexible work mean for businesses?
For workers, there is a growing desire to work somewhere with a flexible schedule. All of this means that if you are a business wanting to keep your best people around, listening to their wishes regarding flexible work will help you retain your top talent.

In return, chances are that workers will feel appreciative of the trust placed in allowing them to work away from the office – and make a positive contribution to your company. A study by the US Patent and Trademark Office found that staff who worked away from the office were 4.4  more productive than their office counterparts.

As well as retaining staff and reducing turnover, flexible working can help your organisation recruit global talent – you’re no longer limited to a pool of candidates based largely on geography.

What does flexible working mean for employees?
First and foremost a better work-life balance: 39 percent of employees have seen an improvement in their mental health due to flexible working and feeling less micro-managed. Flexible working enables employees to work when it best suits them, focusing their efforts during peak performance hours, while simultaneously saving money on commuting, sandwiches from Pret eaten al desko, or office wear. The benefits of flexible working have been detailed here.

The downside is that not everyone is sufficiently self-motivated and disciplined to work with no boss or colleagues close to hand, even if they think they can.

Steps for senior leaders and business owners

Be transparent
Advertise all jobs as having flexible working options. This will help reduce the gender pay gap by enabling women to reconcile work and caring responsibilities

Be a role model
Work flexibly and make sure your staff know that you are doing so. If you want to make flexible working work, employees need to feel like they won’t be punished for working flexibly. Senior members of staff who work flexibly send the message that flexible working doesn’t hinder career progression.

Call out bad practice
In some workplaces, there is still a stigma attached to flexible working. Challenge any outdated views that flexible workers are less productive than full-time colleagues.

Why Optimal chose a flexible working policy

Saying yes to flexible working meant we could become a better champion of DE&I – flexible work removes barriers an employee may face when trying to do their job. We believed it would have a positive impact on engagement and productivity, and help us to retain the best talent.

Of course, I manage a global business that aligns well with flexible working – if you need employees to be physically present in order to perform their role, flexible working probably isn’t for you.

How flexible is your company? Do connect with me on LinkedIn — I’d love to hear your innovative and flexible ways of working.

Daniel Fellows

*Image courtesy of Unsplash