Flexible Working - an overview

Flexible Working is fast becoming one the buzz terms of the decade. A growing number of businesses are beginning to realise the huge benefits of offering employees flexible working opportunities, and more will follow.

The old adage that a happy workforce is a productive workforce has never been truer and feeling positive and motivated in our job can boost morale, leading to faster promotion and a fatter salary.

Hence a very significant eight out of 10 companies in the UK are now offering their staff flexible working, according to new research on more than 4000 UK companies commissioned by workplace provider Regus.  (Source: Flexible Working Goes Global, Regus March 2011)

Importantly, those companies embracing flexible working are reaping the benefits:

40% say it has boosted employee productivity
67% of staff say they achieve a better work-life balance
55% of firms answered that flexible working costs less than conventional, fixed office working

With absences costing UK companies £17bn a year, its clear that offering flexible working is not just a great ethical choice - but also one with a strong business argument. It can benefit both the employee and the employer.

How do I start?

If you are keen on working flexibly here's how to go about it...

Flexible Working can mean any working pattern that suits your needs. These include flex time - choosing when to work within a core period, job sharing - dividing a job for one person with someone else and compressed hours, which is working your agreed hours over less days.

The umbrella of flexible working can also incorporate working remotely or at home for some of the week, taking a career break or sabbatical and term time working if you have kids.

First of all you must identify the flexible working method that would benefit you - and your employer. Establish what your requirements are and look into what your company offers. A HR department or staff intranet can often provide you with advice and guidance on your company's policy.

If you are a member of a trade union they too may be able to offer you some assistance.

What if my employer does not currently offer flexible working?

Most parents and carers have a statutory right to request flexible working.  An informal approach may be the best place to start, but you can exercise your statutory right by writing to your employer with the information required by legislation. 

Try writing up a flexible working application present to your boss explaining how working flexibly can make you more productive for the company and assist in your work/life balance. Put together a compelling case on how and why the flexible working practice you want can work for you and the company.

Give your employer as much notice as possible as to when you would like to 'go flexible. Including important facts such as whether you have the responsibility for the upbringing of a child or care for someone.

I've started working flexibly - now what?

Once your new arrangement has been agreed it is very important to constantly review it with your employer to make sure all parties are satisfied. Every 4-6 months is usually advised.

This article is a broad overview of this topic- You may also find this article from Working Families useful:-

For more detailed information visit http://www.workingfamilies.org.uk/articles/parents-and-carers/flexible-working or call the Working Families helpline on 0800 013 0313

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