Everything you should know on flexible work arrangements

Flexible working is on the rise and with current technology solutions it is becoming possible and more and more popular among businesses around the world.

Flexibility matters for employees

First of all flexibility matters a lot to employees. Having flexible work arrangements they are able to deal with their responsibilities aside from work, which cannot be done at other times like medical appointments or kindergarden operating hours. If they are not able to fulfill these they often feel stressed and frustrated as well as absent minded at work.

Flexibility matters a lot for working parents, but it is not only them who need such option. One in six employees have eldercare responsibilities and there is also a new generation of Millenials, who want to have time for other things, such as sport, education and public service.

Flexibility is beneficial for the business

While flexibility matters for employees, it also does makes a business sense. There is quite a lot of research that shows the benefits of offering flexible work arrangements. Let us quote just a few of them.

  • Flexibility improves productivity: British Telecom proved that productivity of flexible workers increased by 30%

  • Reduces absence: recent UNISON survey showed that sickness reduced from 12% to 2% among those that worked flexibly

  • Brings unique business benefits, such as an option to offer a wider service to your clients outside traditional hours.

Flexible work arrangements

There is a full range of flexible work arrangements to choose from.

  • Flex start and finish – when employee works full-time but comes to the office earlier or later than the usual time for everyone
  • Working “shifts” – when employee leaves the office earlier, say at 3pm, to go home and pick up kids or go for medical treatment and than finish up work at home in the evening, working the remaining hours
  • Part-time – when a person works less hours in a week. This can mean leaving office earlier each day or having some days off.
  • Compressed work week – when your team member works full time, but have less working days in a week. Some working days in a week they have free and on others stay long hours to make up for those days. Such setup may be useful when they want to reduce the time spent on long commute.
  • Job sharing – when 2 employees are sharing one full headcount and work in one role as a team. This setting is becoming more and more popular, since it seems to be a win-win for your employee and the company. Company has 2 people doing one job, meaning unique capabilities, more ideas & perspectives, more skills, more security (there is always a back-up) & sustainable performance. For the people doing job sharing it enables them to perform an ambitious and serious role, but have a lot of flexibility by sharing the responsibilities with another person.

Handling flexible work arrangement requests

While considering flexible work arrangement request, it is important to make sure that it doesn’t negatively impact the business, as well as individual and team performance. Here are the steps that we recommend you to take if you are considering implementing flexibility working options in your team.

  1. Ask your team member to structure their request and create a strong business case. Here are some useful elements they should include in their request:
    • what specifically they ask for and for how long
    • what benefits of flexible work arrangement they can see for themselves and for the team
    • potential risks and challenges
    • solutions to mitigate risks & deal with challenges
  2. Review the business case together, flag any additional concerns & risks and discuss possible solutions.
  3. Establish success metrics and/or plan to run a pilot.
  4. Make a final decision and formalize it with HR.
  5. Update the team on the new arrangement of your team member
  6. Monitor the impact on the team. Expect some resentment from other team members.