Flexible working: the law and best practice

Advantages of flexible working

Introducing a flexible working policy can benefit you as well as your employees.

Flexible working: business benefits

Many employers believe that promoting flexible working makes good business sense and brings the following improvements:

  • Greater cost-effectiveness and efficiency, such as savings on overheads when employees work from home or less downtime for machinery when 24-hour shifts are worked.
  • The chance to have extended operating hours.
  • Ability to attract a higher level of skills because the business is able to attract and retain a skilled and more diverse workforce. Also, recruitment costs are reduced.
  • More job satisfaction and better staff morale.
  • Reduced levels of sickness absence.
  • Greater continuity as staff, who might otherwise have left, are offered hours they can manage. Many employers find that a better work-life balance has a positive impact on staff retention, and on employee relations, motivation and commitment. High rates of retention means that you keep experienced staff who can often offer a better overall service.
  • Increased customer satisfaction and loyalty as a result of the above.
  • Improved competitiveness, such as being able to react to changing market conditions more effectively.

Flexible working: benefits for employees

The main benefit of working flexibly for your employees is that it gives them the chance to fit other commitments and activities around work and make better use of their free time.

Introducing a flexible working policy

You should inform and consult employees before you introduce a flexible working policy. This may help them understand how flexible working arrangements may impact on your business.

When planning to implement a policy, you will need to consider the following:

  • What flexible working arrangements will suit the business?
  • How will you deal with applications, eg who will attend the meetings and how will the administration work?
  • Are there jobs that might be difficult to do under a flexible working arrangement, eg jobs that don't suit homeworking?
  • If there are, what is the nature of the obstacle and can you perhaps overcome it?
  • How flexible are your IT arrangements, eg can employees access their email away from the workplace?

Find out how to set up employment policies for your business.