The pandemic opened the gates to flexible working on an unprecedented scale. As lockdown restrictions led to the closure of many offices — implementing flexible working was a tactical response. The Covid-19 outbreak posed a threat to public health, so UK-based employers were urged to support the government’s mandates to work from home — a moment in history that etched the beginning of a new generation of flexible working.

What is flexible working?

Flexible working is when an employer grants an employee freedom to independently structure their professional life, such as how they work and when they work.

This working style was essential when workforce numbers were gravely depleted because of the pandemic’s disruption. By granting flexibility, many employers were able to maximize the availability of their workforce and continue to operate throughout the pandemic.

Flexible working can take the form of executing contracted hours in a setting other than the office and allowing employees to determine shift times, subject to approval. Here are a few types of flexible working practices:

  • Flexi: Working flexi means to work as and when you choose, subject to completing your contracted hours.
  • Compressed hours: Reallocating your working hours, typically through a shorter workweek.
  • Staggered hours: Starting or finishing work at a different time than your co-workers to work around your routine.
  • Location: Diversifying where you work, such as working from home, from an office, or a hybrid approach, which is a combination of the above.
  • Job sharing: Sharing one role between two individuals to divide the workload and hours — a form of part-time working.
  • Part-time: Working fewer hours in a week.
  • Annualized hours: Working a fixed number of hours annually but spreading them out differently each day according to demand. Normally, employees will be paid as if they worked the same hours all the time.
  • Shift-swapping: Employees interchange working shifts with each other as needed.

Flexible working provides employees with countless opportunities to balance their work life and their personal life and better manage the responsibilities of childcare. By working around employees’ needs, flexible working can add immeasurable value to your company and help retain talent.

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Why flexible working has gained currency

A CIPD flexible working report found that 87 percent of people want work flexibility, but this demand continues to be unfulfilled. There is an untouched pool of exceptionally talented professionals that are yet to fit into a role due to restrictive working terms and a lack of flexible working opportunities.

Extending flexibility to employees will motivate teams and increase job satisfaction. According to the CIPD report, workers are also more likely to be engaged, which yields significant advantages for employers. If employees are happy in their jobs, it will likely reflect on their performance and productivity — potentially generating 43 percent more revenue and improving performance by 20 percent.

Going the extra mile is key to retaining talent; if employers have employees’ best interests at heart, they will receive loyalty in return.

The report backs this as higher levels of engagement, as a result of working flexibly, can reduce staff turnover by 87 percent.

Flexible working is in evident demand across the UK and also presents a host of employer benefits. By equipping your business to facilitate flexible working, you are meeting the growing demands of candidates and equipping your business to respond to market change. If you’re ready to embrace flexible working and build your international remote team, let Globalization Partners be your source for expert advice and support. For more information, contact G-P to learn how their Global Growth Platform™ can help you swiftly diversify your talent base and prepare for the future of work today.

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About the author:

David Tattersall is Head of Client Relations at Handpicked Accountants, an innovative online directory that houses reputable accountants in your local area.

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