If you’ve ever wanted to work from home or needed flexible hours, the UK’s flexible working regulations mean your employer has to consider any request you put in and, if they turn it down, must give a valid reason for doing so.
To make flexible working work though, it has to be right for both the employer and the employee, and with so many variables involved, things can quickly get complicated.
If you’re an employer or an employee considering the options, it’s a good idea to break flexible working down into two components – ‘flexi-time’ and ‘telecommute’.
How to make flexible working work for your business
There are a number of ways to make flexible working a reality for staff, but it takes mutual trust, respect and both sides making sure everything is in place so the job can be done effectively when out of the office. Here are some things to consider.
If your business offers flexi-time, it simply means employees can work outside of the normal nine-to-five to make up their scheduled hours.
This can be relatively straightforward to keep on top of by simply adopting a ‘clocking in’ or ‘logging in’ system for employees to make sure they make up the hours you’re paying them for.
However, as contradictory as it may sound, structure is key to the successful adoption of flexi-time and hours should only bet set once it’s been established that everyone benefits, or at least that no-one suffers – nobody wants to be picking up the slack for a flexi-time worker.
Get on board with telecommuting
The second option is telecommuting which is basically the work from home thing – and this is the one that will be causing employers the biggest headache.
The first fear is that a lack of discipline can kick in for those employees that choose to work from home – there’s nothing quite like the peer-pressure of the office environment to keep workers on the straight and narrow.
And so a system needs to be put in place that allows you to keep tabs on what employees are up to, without coming across too heavy handed and ‘big brother’-like. A good way to do this is to put systems in that monitor performance as this is something every business needs to make sure everyone is pulling in the same direction.
The work from home option could also require you to buy in some specialist equipment to ensure employees can do their job as effectively from home as they can from the office, for instance, portable devices, access to conference call and file sharing facilities.
If this is something your company simply cannot afford then a good compromise could be to let employees use their own devices when working from home using VPN software. A word of warning though, this can have serious implications if your company deals in sensitive customer data and so the necessary security measures will need to be put in place.
Set the structure
As an employer, the first thing you need to work out is exactly who can and who can’t benefit from flexible working – for instance, a content writer who could effectively do their job anywhere they can get an internet connection is more suited to flexible working than an IT worker whose job it is to physically check on systems and servers.
And once this has been ascertained and the flexible working arrangements agreed, it’s vital that these don’t change for at least a few months at a time to make sure everyone knows where they’re up to.
Stay in touch via conference call
One of the bigges pitfalls with remote and flexible working is that people aren’t always around for meetings, but dialling in on a conference call is a simple and effective way around this.
ConferenceCall.co.uk is the UK’s simplest conference call service. Calls can be set up in minutes, and you can include up to 100 participants from anywhere in the world.
Go to ConferenceCall.co.uk to find out more.