There is no denying that flexible working has grown enormously over the last few years. It used to be viewed as a slight oddity for people to be working out of coffee shops or from home but now it is very much the norm in modern society.
"Many businesses and employees don’t quite know how to make the first steps"
The days of it being viewed by employers and employees as a way of "slacking off" are gone and the benefits are now widely known, leading to many companies embracing the concept. It offers considerable benefits to both businesses and staff and will only continue to grow in popularity due to the demands of modern working and social lives.
Despite the flexible working law being passed on 30 June 2014, the full "eureka" moment hasn’t quite hit a lot of businesses. Sure, the option is quite often there to work flexibly but many businesses and employees don’t quite know how to make the first steps, but momentum is gathering.
For a multitude of reasons, 2016 firmly looks like being the year in which considerable strides are made in terms of implementation and culture.
1) Modern culture
People are now eager to get hold of more information, quicker and in more digestible ways. Our lives are busier and we require flexibility in our working hours in order to be productive while still establishing that all-important work/life balance. Having time for those things most passionate to you, be it a young family or a hobby, should not come at the expense of your work – flexible hours and environments for work can allay these fears.
The tools and software for implementing and monitoring flexible working is now readily available. From video calls, file sharing, screen sharing – everything required for managers and their teams are easily put in place to ensure increased productivity through flexible working.
There is admittedly still room for the government to make improvements when it comes to broadband speeds but at least it is now a talking point.
3) Frustration with commuting
We’ve all suffered at the hands of a delayed train or ridiculous traffic jam but many are now starting to realise there are other options. With fares increasing, frustration is starting to mount as people value their time and money.
The postcode of a potential partner is no longer a deal breaker when it comes to choosing a company or individuals to collaborate with. SMEs are beginning to see that working with fellow SMEs across projects and campaigns can reap huge rewards for both parties.
5) Recruitment and staff well-being
Staff well-being is a term that has gained in significance over the last few years. A company who puts its employees’ needs first is worth its weight in gold and the top talent are starting to realise this. Allowing flexible working and with it a work/life balance is paramount for people on the job hunt and businesses are becoming aware that to attract the best, they need to be able to offer this as highlighted in this CIPD article last week.
Jason Downes is MD at conference call service providers Powwownow.