There’s no doubt that having a choice over where and when we work can make a huge difference to our working lives. That’s why more and more employers are now implementing flexible working practices, and the concept of flexible working is becoming quite commonplace, not just here in the UK but globally.

It doesn’t, take a degree in rocket science to see the case for flexible working.Employers who offer flexible working are immediately at an advantage when it comes to recruiting the best talent. These employers are very open to discussing the work-life balance as part of the recruitment process: it’s part of the business culture.

There are also additional business benefits. We’ve found that employers we’ve talked to who have flexible working policies for all their staff, not just select groups, see tangibleimprovements in employee productivity, loyalty, satisfactionand staff attritionrates. Plus there’s the added bonus of being known locally as a good company to work for.

The case for flexible working

A government survey of employers’ attitude to work-life balance, found that the majority of those asked said that flexible working had a positive impact on employee motivation and relations, in their organisation. Surveys by the CBI and BCC in the last couple of years have also had similar findings.

Research by workspace provider Regus, has also found that almost everyone they surveyed (90%) said that flexible working is an effective way of helping employees achieve a better work-life balance, and improving employee morale.

Regus surveyed more than 2,200 business owners and senior managers, and discovered that four-fifths (81%) saw flexible working as a way of improving employee productivity.

What is interesting about the research is that it also found that two-thirds (67%) of those it surveyed regarded flexible working practices as a way of saving money; they felt that it’s a lower cost option than fixed-office working.

And nearly half (49%) of respondents believed that flexible working gave businesses a recruitment advantage.

What’s the best way to implement flexible working?

Flexible working doesn’t just have to be for large organisations; small and medium sized companies can benefit from flexible working too.

It’s important that flexible working is not just limited to flexible hours. It’s aboutconsidering flexible locations, and that doesn’t always mean home working. Many employees like working in a professional environment with others, but they want to avoid long commutes to and from work, so you may want to consider local centres where a small group of employees can work.

There is a vast amount of technology available at our fingertips theses days that makes flexible working easier. Instant messaging, access to documents from cloud drives, mobile phones and laptops means that remote location, or out-of-office-hours working, is no longer the issue it once was.

However, be careful about imposing flexible working practices from the top down; they might suit the business but, if they don’t suit the employee, you’ll end up doing more harm than good to your employee relationships.

The secret to success

The secret to success is to have a sensible, constructive and meaningful conversation between the employer, whether that’s a manager, HR professional or both, and the employee. The working arrangements need to suit both the business and the individual, and that’s why it needs to be discussed on an individual basis. Employers who make the effort to properly discuss flexible working options with their staff, have a much better chance of finding a solution that means they can recruit, and keep hold of, the best talent.