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5 questions to ask before introducing flexible working arrangements

By Patrick Redmond

Even before COVID-19, employers have been looking at better ways to manage a workforce that has grown increasingly diverse.

Many of your staff are likely to be parents or individuals with caring responsibilities. Other employees might have sporting or other interests that they want to devote time to.

One option that might allow you to help employees manage their time better is a flexible working policy. Here, we look at five questions to ask before implementing flexible working arrangements in your business.

The five key questions

1. Will flexible working impact the demands of your business?

While it’s important to help staff balance their work and home life, flexible working will not be suitable for all businesses. For instance, you may need a certain amount of staff in a certain place for a certain time. That may leave you struggling to find a flexible schedule that stays in line with your operational demands.

2. What benefits will the introduction of flexible work achieve?

Do you have a clear idea of what the upside of a flexible work policy is? For instance, will it serve to increase staff motivation? Many businesses have found that it’s a way to stand out from the crowd in the war for talent.

Likewise, it could improve employee retention rates, reduce absence, and reduce employee stress. An effective flexible work policy can lead to improved efficiency, productivity, and competitiveness.

3. Will all employees be able to avail of a flexible work option?

It’s possible that flexible working options will not be appropriate for all roles across your business. You’ll need to weigh up issues such as:

  • The cost.
  • The effect on rotas or rosters.
  • The amount of supervision employees in certain roles need.
  • The nature of the workload.

If the option to work flexible hours is only available to certain staff, there’s also the risk of discrimination claims to consider. If you exclude certain employees, you will need objective justification for your decision to ensure compliance with employment equality laws.

4. What flexible options work for your business?

While many people make a connection between flexible working and working from home, flexible work arrangements can take various shapes. Some of the options include:

  • Job sharing
  • Part-time working
  • Flexitime
  • Term-time working
  • Swapping hours

Consider which options work best for your business.

5. Have you a flexible working policy and procedure for handling requests in place?

Put all these considerations down in a policy before introducing flexible working arrangements. The policy should:

  • Set out the purpose of flexible working.
  • Confirm any eligibility criteria.
  • Explain how staff can make a request for flexible working arrangements.

The overnight move to remote work on foot of COVID-19 is likely to accelerate the transition towards a more flexible model of work that was already underway in recent years. If flexible work is right for your business, it can have tangible HR benefits and help you retain and attract new staff. It won’t work for all businesses however, and it’s best to assess suitability before confirming a decision to introduce flexible work.

Need our help?

If you would like further advice on flexible working from an expert, our advisors are ready to take your call. Call us on 01 886 0350 or request a callback here.

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