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by Louise Deverell-Smith

Why flexible working is here to stay

A few years ago, the phrase ‘flexible working’ was a dirty one in many industries, as what came with it was connotations on lack of dedication, commitment and drive. Thankfully, the tide is turning and a lot of employers (well, the good ones anyway!) are realising that’s a load of old tosh and that actually, by offering their employees the opportunity to work flexibly, the rewards and benefits are high.

There seems to be a lightbulb going on around the country for a lot of large employers that the days of their staff sitting at a desk, Monday – Friday from 9-5 are long gone and that in fact, this way of working can actually stifle creativity, workflow and ambition. Instead, it can create a stagnant culture of the mundane, Groundhog-day type working environment where productivity can suffer.

It has been proven that when staff are offered the opportunity to be flexible to improve their work/life balance, their commitment, productivity and use of time are fully dedicated to the matter at hand – ie, getting the job done.

The recent experiment by a company in New Zealand  (The Guardian.com New Zealand employees try four-day week) showcased a four day week (with employees getting paid for five) and saw a substantially increased level of productivity and staff happiness due to giving staff an extra day to help with childcare and life in general, and this initiative, we are happy to see, has now been implemented permanently.

It seems that focused work is the preferred work rather than the full-time working week littered with ‘water cooler moments’ and wasted time and energy. Let’s all be honest, when we’re in full-time employment, we are not 100% productive all of the time – there is a lot of wasted time but still employers want to physically see you there even if you aren’t being productive. However, when people are given a set timeframe to achieve their workload and it seems it will be done.

At Daisy Chain, we have a long list of wonderful men and women who are looking for flexible work. Often, they are parents looking to return to work and find the childcare balance, both time and cost-wise, as well as people that prefer to work flexibly. They are all super talented, have often come from a hugely skilled background and are looking to use their knowledge and skill set in a new role with employers that understand the necessity for flexibility.

And we’re not alone in our views. Rebecca Hilsenrath, Chief Executive at the Equality and Human Rights Commission recently said: “Improved flexible working policies are essential for a working environment that allows people to achieve their full potential. Being able to work flexibly can help to reduce the gender pay gap by removing barriers and giving people greater choice about the role they can play both at work and home.”

What barriers we are finding is that employers are not showcasing that they work flexibly clear enough to their existing and potential staff. There needs to be more awareness and championing of people that work flexibly and the success it brings to the company and shout out what employers are achieving by allowing their staff to work flexibly (eg, people being able to look after their kids/parents).  The Working Forward Campaign is a great one to get involved which champions rights for parents and pregnant women.

Alongside flexible working, job sharing is pleasingly on the rise with a number of high-profile case studies showcasing the success of it and arguably, the better results having two heads for one. Please have a read of Timewise’s article talking about this with focus on job shares in organisations including BBC, Department for Transport and Aviva [https://timewise.co.uk/power-j…]

Flexible working is definitely here to stay as the fact is, it works. The employers that are not understanding that flexible working is the future and it has to be in their recruitment offer will unfortunately, get left behind as having a work/life balance isn’t just a nice thing to have anymore, it’s a basic human right.

This article was originally published in Women in Banking and Finance

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