Flexible Working: Why It’s A Must For Business in 2016

The opportunity to work flexibly has been made possible due to the rise of technology and more importantly, the Internet. ONS (Office for National Statistics) figures reveal that in Great Britain 39.3 million adults are accessing the Internet everyday and 86% of households have access to it, thus making remote working easier than ever before.

Flexible working includes hours worked, times of work, place of work and different patterns of work. This flexibility is the way forward for businesses because if utilised correctly it can have benefits for both the employer and the employee – boosting both productivity and morale, which in return will attract and retain the best talent.

Happy employeeResearch from Ernst & Young (EY)  found that two out of three firms believe flexible working helps motivation, commitment and employee relations. They revealed that 8.7 million people in the UK want flexible working, with 82% of managers believing it benefits their business. They also discovered that £8.5bn could be added to the UK from flexible working, through more productive use of available flexible working hours.

UK legislation is also encouraging a strategic move towards more flexible ways of working. A year ago the Government extended the rules around flexible working; as a result any employee who had been in their job for at least six months could ask to work flexibly.  An employer can refuse the application, but they must have a good business reason for doing so. They must also handle the request in a reasonable manner and respond in a timely fashion; if they do not do so they could risk being taken to an employment tribunal.

Many SME employees embraced this change and from a survey of 1,000, 80% who had worked flexibly said it had made a positive difference to their working life, 52% said it made their work/life balance easier and a third found they were more productive.

However due to questions and uncertainties, despite the benefits it could offer the company, many businesses still aren’t working in this way. 55% of employees said their employer required them to work fixed hours in the office and 44% said they weren’t allowed to work remotely under any circumstances.

It appears that many employers see that the employees might benefit but not how such changes might equally serve the company well. They often find it hard to truly appreciate that flexible working can increase productivity; and they frequently underestimate the huge potential to reduce overhead costs. This could be particularly relevant as a company starts to outgrow existing premises: flexible working arrangements could perhaps avoid the need to move to larger property.

Therefore as we head into 2016 it is becoming imperative for businesses to adopt this way of working, if they want to keep up with their competitors. If they don’t adapt to this change in work culture they are risking damaging growth as well as staff morale.

The 9 to 5 is a little outdated, when you consider that most jobs can be done from anywhere in the world. So much work is carried out on computers with the aide of the Internet and e-mail. Alongside this there has been a rise in online document storage and scanning services such as Kelly’s Document Scanning, which allows businesses to create electronic versions of any documentation. Employers can easily get information to employees and vice versa. This information is then available 24/7 from anywhere in the world!

If flexible working makes life easier for the employee and therefore produces a rise in their productivity, this can only be a win-win solution for both them and the employer.

Article by Patrick Vernon on behalf of Kelly’s Document Scanning.