Make flexible working work – long-term strategies

In times BC (Before COVID-19), only about 5% of the workforce had their home as their standard place of work. The number of people working from home has increased steadily over the last five years, but the last couple of years has escalated remote working at a rapid pace. Many employees are balancing work with childcare, home-schooling and supporting vulnerable relatives, as well as working from kitchens and living rooms. This is not reflective of normal flexible working and organisations should take care not to make any decisions around flexible working based purely on this period.

Current circumstances provide organisations with an opportunity to review their approach to flexible working as well as learn from employee experiences of recent months. You could consider undertaking a survey of your staff in order to understand:

  • What challenges have employees experienced whilst working remotely and flexibly?
  • What benefits have they experienced?
  • What impact have these changes had on their lives?
  • What aspects of working remotely do employees wish to retain
  • What are they keen to lose?

The information gathered can help you reflect on and determine your longer- term strategy for flexible working – looking at areas such as your organisational culture, current policies and the requirement for manager training.

Flexible working has the potential to bring significant benefits to organisations and their employees. It can both support the return to the workplace on a practical level, help employees to cope with ongoing issues relating to the pandemic and help to maintain hygiene and social distancing whilst the virus still presents a considerable risk.

In the longer term, it can enable organisations to address some of their key people strategies including talent acquisition, productivity, employee engagement, retention, gender pay and sustainability. Flexible working will therefore be a key issue for employers in the years to come and beyond.

Feel like you could do with some more advice on this? Then contact our trusted partners Greig Melville HR. Call 01324 628676 or email hr@greigmelvillehr.co.uk to see how they can support your business.