February 9th 2023
The concept of flexible working is understood now more than ever in a post-pandemic world, and many companies are still using various models in their day-to-day operations. For some people, however, it can still be a bit of an alien term, or perhaps too vague in how it’s described a lot of the time.
In this article, we’re going to give you a proper breakdown of what flexible working is, how it works, and why it’s likely to continue as a mainstay in modern business well into the future.
What is Flexible Working?
So, let’s start off with a description of what exactly flexible working is.
Flexible working refers to a model of work in which employees are able to do away with their typical 9-5 working hours, in favour of a schedule that more readily fits around their life. This can include working from home, higher or lower hours each day (e.g., later starts/earlier finishes), compressed hours giving them more days off, or dialling in from anywhere remote such as cafés or co-working offices.
All-in-all, a flexible work schedule puts the employee first, allowing them to define their times of work to when they are more likely to be fully productive.
Which Industries Leverage Flexible Working?
Now we have the definition, let’s discuss which industries or sectors are most likely to benefit from flexible working.
Informational and technical jobs such as web designers, coders, graphic designers, digital artists and those working in IT admin are likely to benefit massively from flexible working, as their crafts do not require them to be in-house most of the time. Typically, any job that revolves around the internet is a viable candidate for flexible working.
Other careers that can benefit from flexible working are media and communications jobs such as bloggers, copywriters, digital marketers, PR consultants and translators, as well as trade contractors such as mechanics, electricians, plumbers, builders and carpenters.
How Does it Work?
Let’s break down a few of the different models of flexible working, to give you a better understanding of how ‘flexible’ it really can be.
Working from home is a version of flexible working, which gives employees the opportunity to complete a days work without the hassle of commuting back and forth to the office. This can come with its own set of challenges, so you should check out our guide on how to stay fit & focused while working from home, to make sure you’re getting the most out of those days!
Part-time working in itself is a type of flexible working, where employees are needed for typically half of the time than that of full-time employees. This allows them to plan their time outside of work more effectively.
Compressed hours is a type of flexible working in which employees are able to work more hours per day, but for less days in the week. For example, they can work four 10–12-hour days within a 7-day time period to meet their full-time quota, but then have more days out of work. There is also a push for the implementation of the 4-day work week, in which employees work 4 regular work days, and have 3 days off. This is yet to be fully tested and rolled out, however.
Other options can include flexi-time (complete freedom in how and when they work, outside of a set core number of hours), and phased retirement in which employees approaching retirement age can adapt their working hours to gradually move to part-time.
What Are the Benefits of Flexible Working?
All of these models of flexible working will sound very enticing to you, and they should for many reasons. Let’s look a few of the benefits.
Flexible working can lead to a better work-life balance, where employees feel like they have freedom and control of their workday. The ability to plan doctors’ appointments, picking the kids up from school and a plethora of other day-to-day tasks can add to a greater sense of accomplishment and a ‘getting stuff done’ attitude that can improve quality of work.
With a better work-life balance comes an increase in productivity when they are working, with the understanding that all of life’s little interruptions are taken care of. After all of this, comes greater job satisfaction, with them feeling understood and trusted by their company to get the job done in whichever way they see fit.
And let’s face it, being able to avoid rush hour traffic is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Being at home during the workday, or having a later start, allows employees to have more ‘me time’ in the mornings, without the looming dread of having to catch the bus on time or hoping the car will start in Winter.
What Are the Challenges of Flexible Working?
There are times in which flexible working can become a hindrance, however. Not always, but sometimes. So, let’s give you the bad here too.
Understanding the benefits also requires you to get to grips with the challenges that can crop up when moving to flexible work schedules.
If many employees are on a flexible working schedule, it can be difficult to plan time in which meetings can happen. If several employees aren’t available, a meeting is likely to be less effective, which then requires other employees to feedback to those who weren’t present. This eats away at time during the day, which feels like the opposite of what flexible working tries to achieve.
Flexible working breaks down the boundaries which typical employers use to ensure their workforce is being productive. This can sometimes mean that those little interruptions from an employees homelife can take centre stage, while work quality falls to the wayside.
Having less structure in a workday can seem like a dream to some, but for others it can leave them without a sense of direction, which can ultimately lead to them asking more questions or reaching out for help which, again, puts a strain on time.
All of these potential drawbacks can be addressed, however, with proper communication throughout the team, ensuring everyone is on the same page at all times.
Like it or not, flexible working is here to stay, as many businesses are seeing no real drops in productivity across their employees as a whole who are taking advantage of this new way of working. There are some drawbacks, but like with any working model, over time the challenges subside as it becomes more common.
We hope you learned something with us today, and if you’re a business owner looking to expand your office space, or scale down as more employees move to flexible working, take a look at our serviced offices and managed offices today to see what we have on offer in your area.