What is flexible working? It is defined as a way of working that suits the needs an employee may have. This might mean having shift starting or ending times that are flexible, offering telecommuting as an option, or being able to take time off during the day to handle personal matters. Some governments allow flexible working to be requested after 12 consecutive months of work under certain conditions, like being the parent of a school-aged child. Others allow the right to be requested immediately, while some governments have no rules about flexible working whatsoever.
Is this type of arrangement a good idea? Is it something that can improve productivity for employers? Here are some of the key points to consider when looking at the pros and cons of flexible working.
What Are the Pros of Flexible Working?
1. It promotes a happier and more productive workforce.
Because workers are able to take care of personal matters without worrying about their job, they can stay focused on each task that needs to be done. As an outcome, many employers note that there tends to be a reduced use of sick days when flexible working is allowed.
2. It recruits the best talent.
Many workers enjoy being able to fit work into their personal schedules instead of fitting their personal needs into their work schedule. By implementing flexible working, an employer opens up the potential of recruiting better talent.
3. It can save money.
Because working at home is part of the flexible working arrangement, employers can often save money on their ancillary expenses. This is because less office space is needed with workers at home, plus fewer furniture and personal needs are required at the office. Flexible working creates better economics.
4. It helps employers stay active longer in the work day.
Some workers will want to work earlier. Others will want to work later. This gives an employer the opportunity to have a business presence outside of normal working hours within their community.
5. It encourages diversity.
Not every household is structured in the same way. Unique personal needs will almost always take a higher priority than work will. By offering flexible working, more diversity can typically be obtained because more potential candidates feel like they can adapt an open position to the demands that modern life has for them.
What Are the Cons of Flexible Working?
1. There will always be a few who take advantage of flexible working.
Some workers like the lesser levels of supervision that usually come with this type of arrangement because it allows them to be less productive. Employers must be proactive in their supervision of workers in such a program to maintain discipline.
2. It can create internal dissent.
Some employers may choose to approve flexible working for parents and caregivers only, which may create a discrimination claim and potential litigation. Some workers may struggle to cope if their co-workers have the same flexible working request they have. Good judgment is absolutely necessary to avoid this conflicts as often as possible, especially if some workers are approved and others are not.
3. It limits social contact with co-workers.
If a flexible working arrangement involves telecommuting, then many workers may not know one another. When there is a lack of contact with co-workers, there can be a lack of cohesiveness on the team and that can limit productivity.
4. It can limit communication.
Flexible working often has workers coming and going throughout the day. This creates many circumstances where phone or email tag begins to occur. It’s not always possible to pick up a phone to call someone or walk down the hall to chat in their office. The communication breakdowns which are bound to occur must be managed so that effective collaboration can happen.
5. There may be an initial cost to be paid.
If an employer isn’t setup to handle flexible working, then there will be a cost to change their internal structure to make it possible. This might include networking capabilities, hardware purchases, VPN capabilities, and similar needs. The investment might pay off for the employer in the future, but it could take some time for the returns to actually happen.
The pros and cons of flexible working can help employees and employers if it is managed properly. These key points are just a few of the highlights that must be considered when implementing this type of professional environment. With modern technology, however, it is easier to implement flexible working than perhaps ever before.