New research from HSBC[i] has highlighted that flexible and remote working practices are more likely to motivate staff and increase workplace productivity than financial incentives.
Nine out of ten employees (89%) surveyed claimed that flexible working is their number one motivator to boost their productivity at work, compared with 77% of respondents who said financial incentives would motivate them. Other research by HR platform Hibob[ii], found more than two-fifths (43%) of employees want access to flexible working arrangements as part of their employee benefits package.
Since the right to request flexible working after 26 weeks employment became law in 2014 more companies are embracing it, however, some are still resistant.
Timewise, supported by EY Flexible Working published a report into flexible working entitled ‘A Talent Imperative’ in September. It found that only 10 percent of jobs with salaries of over £20,000 were advertised as being open to flexible working, even though 63% of UK employees work flexibly[iii].
The research also highlighted that flexible working will grow in importance. Over 73% of those aged 18 to 34 who are working full time do so flexibly. Additionally, 69% of those who do not currently work flexibly would like to do so.
In most companies, the technology is in place to enable people to work as effectively from home and the benefits speak for themselves. Flexible working cuts commuting time, reduces emissions and keeps people of all ages happy, motivated and more productive. It is a highly prized benefit that can help make companies become an employer of choice. Given this, why are some companies reluctant to embrace it?
One obvious barrier is the fact that in some sectors such as retail, hospitality or healthcare it just isn’t practical to have staff working remotely. We have noticed another major barrier is that many companies struggle to keep track of employees working flexible hours or remotely and consequently worry productivity will dip if they encourage it.
To operate flexible working effectively, managers need visibility of where people are working, the ability to set up meetings remotely and ensure that when people say they are working remotely, they are as available as they are when in the office.
Companies therefore don’t just need flexible working policies, flexible working needs to be embedded in the culture, supported by the board but vitally also underpinned by robust IT systems that provide transparency and clarity over who is working where at all times. Only then will flexible working be truly effective.