Flexible working has been in the spotlight for some time, and as our workplaces take on a more digital focus, the traditional 9-5 workday is becoming increasingly impractical. Whilst certain people already benefit from flexible working practices, research has found that a large proportion of the workforce are still not being given the option to work flexibly.
Michelle Bondesio, a communications and behaviour design consultant, shares her thoughts on what flexible working could mean for business growth, leadership and skills.
Why change the way things have always been done?
In a nutshell, flexible working patterns enable people to fit their work around the other responsibilities and complexities of their life. Studies show that being able to work flexibly can improve our relationships, motivation, health, wellbeing and performance. This is especially important in our increasingly noisy, busy, demanding and uncertain world.
Yet implementing a flexible working policy is often shied away from by distrusting business owners, as it is perceived to be problematic or complicated to implement. And why change the status quo?
Benefits of flexible working
In uncertain economic times, financial security and business growth are big concerns. There are several business benefits to supporting a more flexible work culture, which positively influence your bottom line and support business growth. Flexible working:
- improves job satisfaction, loyalty, morale, motivation and engagement
- increases productivity and efficiency
- is cost effective, as you can reduce overheads
- addresses skill shortages by making work more accessible and encourages diverse workforces
- improves retention and empowers your team to better manage their work/life balance
- strengthens your leadership by communicating trust
- enables innovation and diversification in your business processes
- becomes a key differentiator, separating you from the competition
Doing good business
Business models are also evolving, from being purely profit driven, to more of a values-focused, triple bottom line approach. That means taking people, planet and profit into account. With the climate crisis we’re facing and an unprecedented rise in mental health issues, these are not ‘nice to have’. If you want your business to survive and be sustainable, these are must haves.
We also need better leadership role models where we’re headed in business. Companies which clearly place people, culture and environment at the centre of the way they do business, are the ones where people want to work.
When that focus includes flexible working, it shows that you trust your team enough for them to take charge of how they work. That, in turn, improves their perception of you as a leader, encouraging further trust, loyalty and engagement. It’s a win-win.
Creating more flexible work cultures is deemed so important that a Flexible Working Task Force was established in late 2018 by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. It comprises a partnership between business groups, trade unions, charities and government departments, with the aim of helping businesses champion flexible job opportunities.
Where to start with flexible working?
There are several types of flexible working patterns, which can be configured in countless ways to suit your business and team. If this is something entirely new for your business, it should be implemented in consultation with your staff, as they are the ones who need to benefit from the new policy and processes you initiate.
As our workplaces change through technical innovation, the way we work within them has to change too. This is an opportunity to innovate and to build stronger foundations for your business and people, so you can grow and thrive, whatever the future brings.
Michelle Bondesio, originally from South Africa, established Bondesio Communications & Consulting, to help businesses adopt a healthier working culture for their employees, and she champions ‘better selves for better business’. Her workshops and mentoring packages support business teams to build their resilience, unlock creativity and improve productivity and team morale.
She set up her business after receiving support through Boost’s Growth Support Programme and now reaches a wide network of business clients across the county.