One of Europe’s leading business support organisations, The GO Group, is urging business owners to consider introducing flexible working in a bid to boost motivation and productivity, slash overheads and retain skilled staff.
According to figures from the Office of National Statistics, 45.9% of UK employees currently have flexible working arrangements.
Experts now believe that flexible working arrangements, such as flexi-time, job sharing and home working, could provide a new lease of life for businesses that are struggling to survive in the current economic climate.
Lesley Meechan, director of Learning and Development at The GO Group, says that employer’s who are looking to flexible working are primarily being driven by concerns over the retention of skilled staff and the need to keep up with competitors.
She said: “Flexible working has many benefits – especially for smaller businesses. Being adaptable and allowing staff to work hours that suit them can dramatically increase morale and job satisfaction, which can have a great effect on productivity.”
She added that by showing a commitment to their staff’s needs, employers can attract a wider range of employees and have their pick of the talent.
However, Meechan warns that flexible working must be carefully managed:
“It can be difficult to manage staff who work irregular hours or from home. If you do introduce flexible working to your organisation then you need to make sure that you have strong, effective communication systems in place. Before introducing flexible working, think about the impact this will have on your business.
“Consider what arrangements will best suit your organisation and how flexible your IT systems are. Try flexible working for a trial period at first – it is best to make sure it works for everyone before making a big commitment.”
Director of Ellipsis Books, Debi Letham, has made home working work for her since her typesetting business began trading in January 2008. Ellipsis Books recently won a major contract with Penguin Publishing, and in the past year Debi has seen her business go from strength to strength. She explains:
“The nature of our work means that is it easy for our employees to work from home. We aim to be flexible, considerate employers and home working is ideal for many members of our staff – especially those with families.”
And for Debi, the green benefits associated with home working are also important:
“We are very conscious of reducing our carbon footprint; this is one of the many reasons why we encourage our staff to work from home where possible. In my opinion, if they don’t have to commute, they shouldn’t have to. This benefits our staff as they do not have the expense or hassle of travelling, and it benefits the environment as there are less people on the roads.”