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Is Flexible Working a Desirable Competitive Edge for Your Business?

17th Nov , 2018

We are currently living through enormous changes, with disruption in just about every aspect of how businesses are run. High on your list of strategic priorities should be retaining and attracting talented people. Great people are key to delivering business growth strategies and maintaining your competitive edge. But should you be offering employees greater flexibility in how they work together with the business?

Standing desks, team building exercises, social events, ongoing development such as business coaching, wellness initiatives, bringing pets to work, casual Fridays, and now more so than ever, flexibility in working hours and working from home or on the move, are all being tried and adapted to secure and develop more productive and happier workforces.

However, flexible working options aren’t always appropriate for every business type. For some businesses it’s a no, such as retail or personal services that demand the physical presence of staff. However, many positions such as task orientated roles, clerical, IT, administrative, research and reporting can be done anywhere, with technology enabling face to face meetings easily and effectively.

Cities globally are growing, and the daily commute can be time consuming and stressful. The avoidance of peak hour commuting or even travelling at all is an attractive proposition for many, and potentially allows more time and energy devoted to the job with less stressed people.

What are the Benefits of Flexible Working for Businesses?

Deepen Trust and Respect

Businesses should work together with their people to identify how they best work. This directly demonstrates respect that helps to foster a strong relationship based on trust. Showing regard for an individual’s well-being and personal life grows trust. Working to provide flexible culture facilitates people to thrive better in work and their lives generally and is a critical component of setting up flexible working.

Better Empowerment

When you are trusted to work autonomously with a supporting flexible organisation to do your job, this can be empowering. Most people will appreciate a more flexible structure that they can influence and fit better with their individual lives. They will also be empowered to greater manage the demands of their own roles and determine how best to succeed within the limitations and expectations of the business.

Use People’s Time and Energy Better

Any business coach will tell you that individuals work better and accomplish more when they’re at their best. Most people have certain times that better suit them and these optimal timings do change. For example, morning vs. night people, or parents of young children vs. everyone else.

Be an Employer of Choice

The benefits of flexible working go beyond better engagement and retention to improving the attraction to the business of top talent in the competitive labour market.

Your ability to offer flexible working practices is essential for attracting top talent candidates. Successful high performers can choose the best employer for themselves. Therefore, flexibility will be highly appreciated by those who value flexibility strongly, such as many among the millennial generation, parents, and those caring for disabled or elderly loved ones.

Extend the Talent Pool You Have Access To

Flexible working policies open up opportunities to a wider range of talented, experienced and well-qualified people who cannot easily work within the traditional 8-6, office-based employment. Stay-at-home parents, retirees and professionals with disabilities are all encouraged back into the workforce by flexible working options.

The Down Sides of Flexible Working

Working from home has become an acceptable practice globally, whereby business executives and employees can complete certain tasks effectively in a relatively uninterrupted, stress-free environment. However, it takes discipline and monitoring to ensure work tasks are completed timely and that critical communications are maintained with colleagues and other key people.

At home, many people find they are more relaxed and prepared to put in extra time to complete what needs to be done and do it well. It’s a way of showing appreciation for the trust and support shown by their employers. Employers get the benefit of having engaged employees, less sick leave, a happier workforce and higher productivity. However, for this to be maintained, employers must check and review performance to ensure the work is being done and standards are being met. Unnecessary distractions or lack of motivation also need to be appropriately dealt with.

To incorporate flexibility into a business, you should do a feasibility study to establish whether your business can support it, and in what areas and to whom you should offer the flexible working conditions. The objective is to get a win/win outcome for the business and the employees.

How a Business Coach or Mentor Can Help

A business coach or mentor from International Business Mentors can assist in just about every aspect of running a successful business, from establishing business growth strategies through to identifying and implementing flexible working options. They can also assist in monitoring such changes.

Studies globally have found that given flexible options, executives and employees would change their working hours and that this would not affect their ability to do the job. Some have young families and some want to avoid peak hour commutes, while others just want the option of occasionally working from home. Depending on the type of business, flexible working arrangements may also include rotating rosters and adoption of new technology.

Any changes affecting how businesses are run need to be carefully considered. An independent and impartial business coaching professional can help by drawing on their own experiences and guiding the change process.

If you want to improve quality of work and life for your people and attract and retain good talent, explore the possibilities and engage a business coach or mentor to help you implement flexible working practices.

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