Flexible working is the new norm in the UK. But, with the fast paced transformation of the digital age and our ability to run operations and communicate 24/7 from anywhere, employers, clients and colleagues have quickly come to expect swift responses and immediate action, whether in or out of working hours.
While the aim of flexible working is to give employees greater ownership and control of their own time so they can utilise their full potential at work through a better work/life balance, the good foundations for flexibility have quickly been forgotten.
With this in mind, businesses are now starting to see a major shift towards improving employee engagement through the use of clear policies and practices which promote a positive environment, boosting productivity while taking the pressure off people to be constantly accessible.
Rachel Suff of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, explains: “Technology has created the potential for people to never switch off. If someone is emailed, there is an expectation to respond and this creates an unhealthy culture.” This, she says, brings about a need for businesses to now move flexible working to the next level by finding ways to support employees to work better and more efficiently, no matter their circumstances.
One suggestion is the use of email auto-signatures to inform others of one’s flexible working practices. For example, taking the pressure off respondents by including a message which reads: “I’m sending this message now because it suits me. I don’t expect you to read, action or respond out of your own working hours.”
With only six per cent of employees now working a traditional 9-5 shift, according to a YouGov study last year, businesses must become more sophisticated in their approach towards flexible working practices to remain competitive, increase employee engagement and wellbeing, attract and retain key staff, and improve productivity.
Brian Hartzer, Westpac Group CEO, recently said: “The way I see it, flexibility helps people achieve their full potential by removing barriers to success. If people have the flexibility to manage their personal commitments, they are more likely to bring their whole selves to work every day. And that means they’re more likely to do their best work and exceed customer expectations.”
At Beavis Morgan, we work with a wide range of businesses of all sizes and across many different business sectors, helping them with strategic planning, system implementation, business turnaround and improving business performance for the future.
Recruiting the right people for your business