Flexible workplaces offer employees choices around the hours, days or places they work.
There are lots of ways to look at flexible work solutions and they don’t necessarily mean working less. Flexibility is about helping people to manage their work and personal commitments while also meeting the needs of your business.
Flexible work is something that any employee can request at any time. Once a request is given to you in writing you’ve got a month to make your decision.
At a time when it can be tough to find good staff, and just as tough to keep them, offering work flexibility and making it known can be a good business move.
We all have a lot of life to juggle, especially when it comes to combining work with caring responsibilities. It’s true that it’s often women who take on extra caregiving responsibilities but dads who have shared custody of their children are likely to need some flexibility too. In fact, any of us could find ourselves in a caregiver role if we have an unwell partner, parent or relative.
Beyond caregiving, a variety of pursuits in people’s lives outside work might benefit from some occasional workplace flexibility. If you can make it work for them, here’s how it can benefit your business:
- Lower levels of stress for people in the team
- Higher levels of engagement from people at work
- Higher productivity
- Easier recruitment and stronger retention of good people
Dave: This sounds like it could get pretty messy with people coming and going all the time when I’ve got a business to run.
TradeCareers: It still needs to work for your business, so you only agree to flexible work if you can see that the work will still get done. There might be some adjustments you can make, like having two part-time people rather than one full-time person. If you want to test an arrangement before committing to it long-term you could agree to a trial period.
Dave: Should I only offer flexible work to women?
TradeCareers: If you only offer flexible work arrangements to one or two people it could cause some resentment in the rest of your team. The best thing is to ask everyone to think about what flexible arrangement they want that will still get the work done. That way you’re giving everyone a chance to benefit from more flexibility and you’re more likely to get the benefits from it too.
Dave: I’d like to give it a go, but it sounds a bit complicated and risky.
TradeCareers: We’ve got a downloadable PDF and video to get you started. It will help you make it really clear to each person what their job involves so that they only come up with flexible work ideas that fit.
Here’s a summary to help keep you on track:
- Don’t wait for a flexible work request to catch you by surprise
- It could divide your team if flexible work isn’t made available to everyone.
- Open up flexible work opportunities to the whole team
- Have proactive and regular team conversations to plan and review flexible work arrangements.
- Get the team to think about different ways of working to open up more flexible work options
- Review and adapt flexible arrangements to meet the needs of the business and the team
- Use trial periods if you’re trying out a new flexible work arrangement
- MBIE has some useful resources to guide you through the legal side of flexible work