4 things to consider before introducing flexible working
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The introduction of flexible working legislation in the UK in 2014 sparked a significant shift in employee working patterns. The new requirement states:
All UK employees now have the right to make a statutory application for flexible working once they have been employed for at least 26 months.
This legislation has led to increasingly widespread adoption of flexible working practices. According to a study conducted by Lancaster University’s Work Foundation, more than 70% of businesses are expected to accommodate flexible working by 2020.
Employers can’t simply dismiss employee requests. They need to be dealt with in a reasonable manner, assessing the advantages and disadvantages and discussing the situation in a meeting with the employee. All employers retain the right to turn down a request, but they must have a legitimate business reason for doing so.
The term ‘flexible working’ refers to a number of different working patterns. These include remote working, flexitime, job sharing, compressed hours, and more. Numerous studies now show that such arrangements can actually improve productivity and morale. Furthermore they also contribute to reduced to office overheads and increased retention rates.
However, there are certain areas employers need to assess before rolling out flexible working options. Changing working patterns before your business is ready can lead to headaches. Here are four things you should consider before introducing flexible working;
Many employers fear that introducing flexible working will lead to a breakdown in communication. Team collaboration and overseeing work can become more difficult. These are valid concerns. But the can be dealt with relatively easily with appropriate tech.
Project management tools like Trello make it easy to track progress and keep everyone on the same page. Google’s G Suite gives the ability to share and collaborate on documents in real time. Internal social networks such as Slack allow team members to connect via instant messaging to speed up decision making. The list goes on.
There are an abundance of software platforms that can help facilitate the free flow of information under flexible working. The key is finding the platforms most suited to the wants and needs of your employees.
If employees are taking work home, they may also be taking sensitive information with them. Everyone has heard stories of ministers or civil servants leaving confidential files or laptops in taxi cabs. Being aware of data security means making sure that access to sensitive information is controlled at all times and that vital data is backed up in at least one secure location. Communicate openly and honestly with staff about how to use their technology to access information securely.
There are many kinds of commercial insurance that may be affected by flexible working. For example, if employees are going to be working from locations other than the office or regular workplace, you need to make sure you’ll still be covered by employers’ liability insurance should they make a claim against you. A claim could be made for damage to their own property incurred due to working from home, as well as for personal injury.
When introducing flexible working, it’s important to do a thorough risk assessment, both generally and on a case-by-case basis. If employees are working remotely, then you need to make sure their new working environment meets health and safety requirements. Safety issues also need to be considered if employees are coming into the workplace outside of normal hours.