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Getting the most out of Flexible Working!

Gemma Stirrup

As a busy working mum to two girls (growing up far too quick), I have worked flexibly for a number of years under a number of different “flexible” arrangements for different employers.  When I first started out on this road of “reduced hours” to deal with my new parental demands; the company I worked for were somewhat unique in their offer of a 4 day working week against the typical overtime culture prevalent in  the recruitment sector. 

8 years on; it’s clear the hiring landscape has changed significantly with flexibility moving up the priority list for both employers and employees.  Since 2014, any employee with 26 weeks continuous service has been able to apply for a flexible work arrangement  and whilst parental or care requirements are the main reasons for going “part-time”; requests for improved work life balance or to pursue other interests are now also common.

There are many merits for employers considering flexible working arrangements for their employees:

·         Flexible working typically promotes a happier, more delivery focussed employee often reducing sickness absence

·         Flexible working is a perk and an excellent attraction tool; demonstrating trust in employees to deliver their objectives

·         The employer saves potential costs, especially where office space is reduced; “hot desking” is more popular than ever

·         The employer can often offer more out of hour’s services through supporting differing employee needs.

·         Flexible working can create a more even playing field – measuring on KPIs and output rather than time served at your desk

·         The business can link flexibility to their corporate responsibility agenda reducing travel times and costs and environmental factors

The best flexible arrangements are when flexibility is given by both parties.   The pitfalls for employers are that flexibility opens the business up to an abuse of “freedom” with increased home working making it difficult to monitor employee productivity or output.  However, modern management methodology focusses us more than ever on output and productivity and if the output is delivered at 10am or 11pm and the deadline achieved; then the when and where become less relevant.

When I joined Chase and Holland three years ago; I was struck by the drive for equality and how much employee fulfilment meant to the founders of the business.  Ian Holland, MD told me at the time that he believed that if you give full trust to your employees from the start; the right people will work hard if they are sat at their desk in the office or at home.  I work with energetic, passionate people who care about what they do and who they work for.

In the last three years I have attended every play, sports day and key educational event for my children. On the flip side, I have spent many hours working into the evening to deliver against a deadline or support a candidate preparing for a key interview.  I willing invest that time back and some as I get to have the best of both worlds!