Flexible working is a hot topic at the moment and you barely have to open an HR publication to see someone arguing that it’s the future of employment and all of us will be working from our sunny gardens one day down the line. However, that hasn’t always been the case and quite simply in the past the idea of working ‘flexibly’ from home was often considered the preserve of slackers – people who wanted to do half a day’s work and spend the rest of the time catching up with Jeremy Kyle. While things have changed, many have suggested that flexible working isn’t necessarily the be all and end all. But what do firms considering introducing a flexible policy have to keep in mind?

My colleagues Steve Greenwood and Steve Wright have already commented on the potential benefits – and threats – that flexible working can bring to an organisation. Indeed, as a recruiter that’s at the cutting edge we believe that driving flexible working policies is the future. However, that’s not necessarily to say that we should suddenly encourage our consultants to hit the beach with their laptops or to take a few weeks off from the office as there are a number of issues that must be ironed out before an organisation can offer a robust, and scalable, flexible working plan.

And thankfully, another of my colleagues, Andy Lord has raised a few questions on the subject that need answering:

 

Flexible working will mean different things to different businesses. Some will be happy to have their employees work as many – or as few – hours as they like as long as they get results, while others will expect professionals to work a core number of hours which can be delivered whenever is convenient for them.

 

Flexible working isn’t necessarily for everyone, but the important thing is not to just to offer it simply because it’s become fashionable. Rather than simply providing all your staff the chance to work on a flexible basis, instead look to deploy it if and when needed and in a way that suits both your employees and the business as a whole. There’s no point in jeopardising the ongoing success of a firm simply to give your employees the chance to work from home once in a while.

 

Again, this comes down to you as an individual employer and in some instances, client meetings for example, it just won’t be possible to have employees work away from the office. The real question to ask here is if the individual knows how to do their job, understands the company brand and if you trust them enough to work without supervision. If the answers to all those questions are yes, then you shouldn’t be too concerned.

 

Not yet. In the process of asking ourselves these questions we’ve realised that the working world is moving this way, however, as Steve Greenwood points out it’s absolutely vital to ensure you’re getting flexible working right before committing to it. This means ensuring that it works for your business and employees and, crucially, your customers. As a firm that’s at the cutting edge of the talent management arena, we’ll continue to review our approach to flexible working in order to design a strategy that meets the needs of all three groups of people. Keep an eye out for our progress.

Do you think flexible working is the future of the working world?

Iain Blair is Managing Director of Rethink Talent Management

 

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