Flexible working has attracted a lot of attention in recent years. A quick Google of ‘flexible working advantages’ returns 84m results. With the potential for increased profits, happier, more productive employees, and the reputation that candidates are drawn to, it’s not hard to see what all the fuss is about.
But while everyone in business knows the phrase ‘flexible working’, many may not fully understand all the different working styles it can refer to. Here are six types of flexible working and their unique benefits:
Whether it’s completing job-related tasks from home or in a coffee shop, remote working involves employees undertaking all or some of their work away from the office. For employees, this allows them to avoid lengthy commutes and helps create a better work-life balance. Certain types of work can be very difficult to do in a busy office with lots of noise and distractions, so remote working can also improve employee productivity.
As an employer, you may reap the benefits of this improved focus in the form of higher quality work. You may also enjoy lower office expenses and reduced carbon emissions. In addition to this, remote working can widen the pool of employee talent available to your business, as it means you can hire individuals who don’t live within commuting distance of the office. So, if there is a super-talented software developer working in Dublin because he wants to be close to his family, why count him or her out?
Job sharing typically involves splitting one role between two people. The percentage split can be anything that works well for both you and the employees in question, whether that be 50/50 or where one person takes on a larger proportion of hours than the other. This type of flexible working enables both members of staff to enjoy the various advantages of part-time working.
Meanwhile, employers effectively benefit from the expertise of two professionals for the price of one. This type of flexible working can be trickier than others to implement, but in certain situations, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. This is also an option for employers who want to hire two members of staff, but can only justify one wage, as long as both prospective employees are happy with the arrangement.
Full-time employees with compressed hours clock up the same amount of time in their working week as any other full-time member of staff, but over fewer days. They generally achieve this by starting earlier in the morning and finishing later at night, usually allowing them an extra day off work each week. This is hugely beneficial to employees who have other commitments on a certain working day but can’t afford, or don’t want, to go part-time. And it can prove particularly helpful in allowing parents and carers to maintain full-time careers.
The benefits for employers in this situation include the ability to extend business hours of service. In addition to this, organisations that demonstrate a willingness to be accommodating towards their employees tend to inspire a strong sense of loyalty in their workforce.
This means an employee’s hours are set for the year, but there is a level of flexibility regarding when those hours are worked. Under this type of arrangement, employees can work over weekends with time off midweek, or do overtime and claim it back as annual leave. This is beneficial to employees who want additional days of annual leave without making a salary sacrifice.
Such an arrangement can be useful to businesses that experience peaks and troughs in demand for their products or services, as employees can put in longer hours and more days per week to meet a deadline, and then enjoy time away from their job without having to use any of their holiday allowances. To make this work, time ‘claimed back’ needs to be closely monitored by a manager, and scheduled in a similar manner to holiday leave.
Under this type of arrangement, an employee works the same days and number of hours as other members of staff, but with either different start and end times, or slightly different working times. This allows an employee to start and finish either earlier or later than their colleagues to fit around personal commitments. Employees don’t have to commit to core hours and can work the hours to suit their needs.
This is one of the most straightforward types of flexible working. However, it is crucial that you make every effort to ensure important meetings are scheduled at times when all employees are working, in order to ensure individuals are not excluded and maintain a sense of unity.
Flexitime is a very common type of flexible working; employees work ‘core hours’, but can choose their own start and finish times. The benefits for employees are that on occasions they require a later start or earlier finish for appointments, this can be accommodated without them having to take time off.
The ‘core hours’ are essential for ensuring employees are working together at set times and available for important meetings. Allowing your staff flexible start and finish times can help to promote a better work-life balance and reduce stress in the workplace. In turn, this can result in employees producing a higher standard of work. If you are considering introducing flexitime, it may be advisable to roll it out company-wide in order to avoid accusations of unfair treatment.