What do we want? Flex! When do we want it? Now!
Prior to the Covid outbreak, flexible working was fairly uncommon and almost a bit of a taboo. Due to the pandemic, businesses and employees had to find new ways of working and the traditional 9-5 office-based routine was out of the question in most instances. As the world returns to pre-2020 “normality”, working routines are once again coming into question with some employers wanting to fully bring their operation back into the office full time.
Flexible working, though, can encompass a whole host of offers and doesn’t just include working location as people may often think. Perhaps it’s time to reconsider the rigidity that has been built into hours of operation, contracted hours and general working time expectations.
It’s foolish to believe that the traditional 9-5 routine suits every office worker, there are 3 different chronotypes: lark, owl and third bird, all of which have very different optimal times of the day for cognitive tasks. Opening up office hours and allowing the colleague to choose, within reason, their own working times based on their understanding of when they themself work best not only brings a more productive output from that colleague, but also allows your business to reach key clients and contacts across greater hours. Furthermore, it’s essential to consider the diverse needs of a multigenerational workforce, as different age groups may have varying preferences regarding working hours, often influenced by their personal and family commitments.
Both employers and colleagues alike also have varying expectations when it comes to contracted hours, and in 2023 a “full time” role can look so different, falling anywhere between 35 and 47.5 hours. To ensure that you’re attracting the best but also most suitable candidates, it’s important to take an open minded approach when setting a role’s contracted hours, but also to advertise transparently.
With the rising cost of living, many people are returning to work – be that parents or those who had retired. They have a need and a desire to work and can bring so much to the table, but aren’t always able to commit to a full time position, often due to family commitments. Offering a job share, or even a condensed hours approach, not only provides these candidates the flexibility and financial stability they require but also alleviates the financial burden of commuting into the office five days a week.
Work location is another vital consideration. Whilst a fully remote approach may not be favoured by managers, this as well as the hybrid model is another means of widening the talent pool as candidates are able to consider roles further away from home without compromising on their finances or time. Increased productivity is yet again a benefit – colleagues who are able to work from home are generally less stressed and have more energy having not had to navigate a traffic jam or busy train. They can wake a little later or take a gym class prior to starting work and begin the day refreshed, offering up their best work in return.
Adopting any or all of these flexible approaches to working not only rewards the employer with higher productivity and better figures as a result, but also a happy workforce who enjoy their job and are proud to be a part of the business. Furthermore, these flexible practices facilitate the integration of a more diverse workforce, promoting inclusivity and innovation within the company.