Should Employers be more flexible?

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A few years ago Netflix received worldwide attention when they announced they would be awarding employees with unlimited holidays.  Richard Branson was quick to follow suit last year instilling a similar policy within his Virgin empire.  Such policies sound like a huge risk for these multi-national companies, but the idea behind such a bold move was that the focus would be on what people get done as opposed to how many hours or days they had put in and in turn increase productivity. 

Whilst the above may seem a little extreme, more and more employers on a smaller and local level are looking at new ways to get the most out of their employees and maximise productivity.  Flexible working hours is becoming increasingly popular in the UK with more people working outside the regular hours of 9-5.  One of the reasons flexible working may be on the rise is due to the change in the law last year which grants any employee the right to ask their employer for changes to their working patterns (providing they have worked with the company for a minimum of 26 weeks).  Additionally, advances in technology also make it much more feasible to work not just from home, but anywhere.  With smart phones, tablet and wifi so readily available, you can easily create your own ‘pop up’ office on the go.  However, law and feasibility aside, there is obviously a more open attitude to adopting a flexible approach as employers are witnessing an improvement to staff productivity and as a result, are happy to grant more flexible working.

Yet, some employers may still be wary of flexible working.  Traditionally, many employers and employees deem the most valuable workers those that were ever present.  The first one to arrive in the morning and the last one to leave at night was the most acknowledged, or deemed the hardest working, regardless of productivity.  Moving away from this culture can only be a positive thing. 

One of the reasons some employers may not be happy to offer flexible working to staff is simply that they do not trust them to have the motivation and discipline to work if they are not under the boss’ glare.  That’s why it is crucial to employ the correct individuals at the recruitment stage.  If you employ highly skilled, talented and motivated individuals, then it goes without saying that these employees will make a valuable contribution regardless of their working environment. 

There is never a one size fits all solution for flexible working, it obviously depends on the job, the company and the individual but as with all good deals, both parties must derive benefits otherwise there’s no point to the arrangement.