How Flexible Are You?!
Is the term flexible working too widely used in the industry?
I recently attended a yoga workshop for beginners. Here’s how it played out.
Me: “Hi, I’d like to attend the yoga workshop for beginners”
Yoga Instructor: “Great! How flexible are you”?
Me: “I can make Tuesdays and Saturdays”
Many companies claim to offer flexible working benefits, but on closer inspection such arrangements don’t appear to be as readily available as you’d like to imagine. That said, at least we’re all talking about it. Friday was Flexible Working Awareness Day! Were you aware?
In one of the largest global workplace surveys of its kind (conducted by Vodafone and involving 8,000 small and medium-sized businesses, public sector organisations and multinational corporations (MNCs) in 10 different countries), 83% of respondents said adopting flexible working had resulted in improvements in productivity.
These sound like strong stats, but anecdotal evidence among friends, family, clients and suppliers paints a slightly different picture. Obviously the majority of our conversations have been within the recruitment/service industry and construction, but what is patently clear is that, whatever the industry, hiring managers still seem to fixate on the principle that you can’t manage what you can’t see. Despite having an abundance of technology at our fingertips, we’re still in ‘clock in and clock out’ mode.
At Andersen James we’re big supporters of focussing on output and deliverables as opposed to a series of processes and key performance indicators. By entrusting people with responsibilities and awarding accountability for projects and key tasks we feel that you’re embracing each individual’s skills and abilities and not relying on a one-size-fits-all approach. Three-fifths of those polled said flexible working increased their company’s profits rather than reduced them.
Flexible working still remains a divisive issue. What’s more, people’s definition of ‘flexible’ seems to vary greatly. What is flexible working? Surely it’s not just what hours one works but also where, when, and how? It seems we still have a long way to go. Recent research by Direct 365 revealed staff think the growing availability of flexible working options is having a detrimental effect on the atmosphere in their office. It found almost a third of British workers thought the traditional office culture was in danger of being lost.
Clearly this is something that each employer, large or small, needs to be aware of. Change for change’s sake or because something is en vogue seems naïve. Each company has a responsibility to provide the utmost support for their workforce; whether that be a home-working policy, a ‘break-out/relaxation’ room in the office, flexi-time, hot-desking and the like.
Implemented in the correct manner, flexible working should form a vital part of a company’s strategy to retain staff, increase commitment and loyalty, and deliver improved productivity.
When we set up Andersen James, our vision was clear. We wanted to create a business that gave people clear direction and the flexibility and autonomy to create their own pathway to success, whatever that looked like. We have been trialling a ‘true’ flexible working environment with our team since opening and the results are truly amazing. Crucially our clients have provided us with fantastic feedback as to our responsivity and support.
We have invested in technology that gives the whole team the tools to work remotely, while staying in touch on the move.
In a world where every industry needs to attract, recruit and retain the best individuals to hit their future growth plans, are we doing enough to motivate and reward employees with more than just cash incentives? More than three-quarters of respondents to a recent poll said a job which offered flexible working options was instantly more attractive.
We’d really welcome your thoughts on this. What innovative ways do you or your employer offer flexibility in the workplace?