Flexible working: why time, not location will be the next big thing for employees
As we emerge from the pandemic, more and more companies recognize that quality of life is the new frontier in the competition for the brightest talent. Recently, more than 3,300 employees at 70 UK companies began working a four-day week with no reduction in pay. Experiments into new working patterns are being trialed elsewhere in the world too, with Belgium, Iceland, and New Zealand all exploring the impact that a shorter working week has on productivity and an employee’s work-life balance.
Whereas hybrid working has made numerous headlines of late, with a recent Gallup survey finding that 42% of remote-capable jobs in the US are operating a hybrid schedule, flexible working has received much less attention. Hybrid working is often defined as splitting time between home and office working, whereas flexible working more broadly relates to changes in working conditions such as varying hours and location and applying for part-time work.
People also found that flexi-time was viewed as the most important workplace benefit, cited by 67% of respondents and ranking above flexibility in terms of work location. Recent challenges around recruitment and retention suggest that the labor market has changed substantially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Industries are still recovering from the Great Resignation, searching for labor market solutions after the pandemic that will attract the right employees. A greater focus on flexible working arrangements could be one way of reacting to the labor market’s new normal.
Finding what works
Whether the current trend is for hybrid, flexible, or even the traditional 9-to-5 working, it’s important for organizations to recognize that there is no right or wrong approach – it all depends on your particular workplace, and your particular workforce.
One of the positives of flexible working is the added control it offers to employees regarding how and when they work, which studies have shown improves satisfaction, engagement, retention and productivity. The flexibility to work with a variable schedule was cited by a McKinsey study as being a key factor in making work more satisfying. In particular, having time to “care for family” was noted as being of paramount importance.
For certain types of workers, this flexibility is likely to be even more important. For example, the job market must ensure that where women take up flexible working to juggle employment and family life, their visibility in the workplace is not adversely affected.
At the same time, flexible working is not always the answer. It doesn’t necessarily suit all industries and it doesn’t suit all workers. For jobs in emergency services and logistics, for instance, a four-day week simply isn’t practical. Sectors that require staff to work long shifts may also find that a shorter week results in higher labor costs, with more overtime being paid.
Using data to support flexible working
As organizations move to a post-Covid-19 world, it’s expected that new business priorities will lead to the reshaping of teams alongside the upgrading of workforce procedures and policies that will take into account new ways of working. Employers must carefully consider if this will deliver a commercial advantage and work logistically in the long run. In order to do this, employers will require reliable workforce data to determine budgets and costs.
At WCC Group, our digital solutions for Public Employment Services make use of robust data and employment analytics to bring clarity to new workplace structures, ensuring that flexible working is only utilized where it is beneficial for all parties.
Article by: WCC Community