There are many reasons for flexible working becoming more popular – and in some cases, more necessary – than ever before. The increase in the number of working single parent families is just one example, as is the fact that many people combine working with caring for elderly, sick or disabled loved ones. The changing demographics of our population also mean that there is a greater range of needs to cater for and so for many people, the traditional ‘9-5’ is no longer as convenient as it once was.
There are quite a few signs to suggest that a policy of flexible working actually has benefits in terms of staff productivity and turnover. It is not hard to identify reasons why this might be the case: offering staff hours that they can manage without difficulty could encourage some people who would otherwise have had to leave to stay being able to work flexibly can improve morale and lead to a better work-life balance it can give employers the chance to extend operating hours if employees are not all working at the same time.
These are just a few of the reasons flexible working can potentially be beneficial for employers, and they are backed up by research. This includes a study carried out by the Cranfield School of Management, which found that the majority of people who worked flexibly (as well as their managers) said that there was either a positive impact or no impact on performance as a result of flexible working.
It was also found that workers who were able to work flexibly had a greater level of commitment to their organisation, which suggests it has benefits for the company as well as for the employees themselves. It is important to manage flexible working practices to ensure there is cultural acceptance within organisations and it is generally found to be a greater success in those organisations where all employees have access to flexible working as opposed to just certain groups of employees (such as parents).
This evidence could well be useful for other managers who are thinking of implementing flexible practices either permanently or for special events. For example, the upcoming London Olympics is just one example of a time where many managers are looking to accommodate employees and work more flexibly to meet the special demands of the time period, and with it limiting the disruption to the workplace during Olympic travel periods.
Overall, there are many reasons to suggest that flexible working can be beneficial for businesses and workers, as long as it is managed properly, and as long as there is acceptance for and widespread access to any flexible company working practices.