Flexible working myth-busters

By Louise Dennington | July 7, 2021

What comes to mind when you think of ‘working from home’? Perhaps formerly, being able to watch tv, skiving when you have something else on, maybe even an afternoon nap?! How about now you have most likely experienced it? A better work-life balance, higher productivity, reduced sickness absence? Many businesses have opened up to how viable flexible working is, with huge advantages for both the business and its people. The myth of flexible workers being less committed to their job has been well and truly busted.

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly sped up the inevitable change in culture. And yes, working from home alongside home schooling was never going to be easy. But what now? Why not go back to ‘the way things were’?

Flexible working is a pattern of work chosen by the employee, in agreement with their employer. It’s working the days and hours that suit them best, therefore enabling better family and home life management, improved wellbeing and increased engagement amongst other things.

Granted, it’s not all singing and dancing, there are of course some negative impacts, such as  feeling isolated and more stressed, finding it difficult to switch off from work, working longer hours than normal or lack of work space at home.

So how can the negative impact be minimised and how can you make flexible working work for you?

Flexible working has no impact on getting work done

Poor performers will be poor performers, irrelevant of where they work. Robust performance management processes are as important as always, with clear goals and objectives set and agreed between the manager and the employee.

Flexible working doesn’t have to mean working at home all the time

The term ‘flexible’ is key here. Many people thrive on social interactions, where collaboration is key to sparking ideas and creativity. Whether in an office or another mutual meeting space, don’t rule out team get togethers completely.

Flexible working works well given due consideration

In line with ensuring efficient communication tools are in place, so should the IT infrastructure be. What tools do your workers need to work effectively when not in the office? Are there any additional training requirements?

Flexible working can be extremely cost effective

Reviewing how much time and money is spent on travel, both to and from work and for meetings, questions the need for this to happen. Virtual meetings have proved to be just as effective, with video conferencing and team working tools providing efficient communication methods.

Make it happen

Listen to your people to understand what would work for them individually, what would work for the role and what would work for the team. Obtaining this buy in will only enhance employee engagement and their commitment to your business. 

In agreeing deliverables and ensuring the right tools are in place to achieve objectives, if the role allows, there should be no reason why flexible working can’t work. With business managers leading by example, they showcase senior buy-in and normalise the new way of working. Inevitably, what works for one may not work for another, so open and honest communication is key. 

Take this change in culture on board. Give permission to yourself and others to allow for change for the better of the business and its people. Learn as you go.