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13.10.2021

How to introduce flexible working arrangements

By Marian Whelan

Last updated: October 13th, 2021

Flexible working arrangements are becoming more common in Ireland. And for good reason.

Not only do they keep businesses fully operational when workplace workspace is tight, but the Government has also advised that employees should continue to work from home where possible.

If you’re thinking of implementing permanent flexible working arrangements, read on to discover how it’s done.

How to introduce flexible working arrangements

Despite its growing popularity, flexible working is seen as a progressive undertaking for businesses in Ireland. While it’s not mandatory under current laws, it’s seen as a major perk a business can offer to its employees.

During the recruitment stage, it’s wise to outline whether you offer flexible work. Many jobseekers will find it an attractive option when considering work-life balance. There are of course certain challenges your business will face in introducing flexible work, including:

  • The range of operational pressures your business faces on a daily basis.
  • How flexible work could impact customer service.
  • Whether line managers can manage the change.
  • The amount of senior support the arrangement will require.
  • If it’s practical for your business or not.

If you find that flexible work is a feasible option, you should follow these action points:

  • Have a clear-cut process for how your flexible work arrangements will come into effect, how employees can submit a request for flexible working, and what factors will be taken into consideration when such requests are made. Document your process and circulate how it will work to all staff. Confirm everything in writing for your records.
  • Ensure you understand the roles of senior management and HR in managing your procedures.
  • Offer line managers training where necessary so they understand how a flexible working day will work.
  • Consider the impact on culture, as the policy will affect how employees perceive your daily operations.
  • Consider a trial run of your procedures so employees can better understand the process of flexible working. You can also gauge how your workforce responds to it—the reaction may not be as positive as you first hoped.
  • Build-in processes to manage and evaluate your policy.

When introducing your flexible work policy, be sure to manage expectations. Allow everyone time to get used to the new arrangement, which may include some misunderstandings about how it works.

When uncertainty strikes, provide training and documentation that clearly explains the policy.

Flexible working arrangements benefits

Unsurprisingly, an arrangement that benefits work-life balance is usually a big hit among employees. After all, who wouldn’t want greater freedom around their personal lives?

Some of the benefits flexible work provides to you and your staff include:

  • A better work-life balance, which leads to happier staff.
  • Increased productivity as your workforce relaxes and enjoys perks such as avoiding the rush hour commute.
  • A progressive reputation for your business. You can include flexible work as a benefit on your job specs, which can encourage candidates to apply.

However, it’s important to be mindful of any disadvantages. These can include:

  • Flexible work might be unsuitable for certain industries, so consider whether it’s practical for your average working day.
  • You must have policies in place to ensure staff don’t abuse the arrangement and think they can get away with lateness.
  • It can be difficult to implement, which can be disruptive if you’re at a particularly busy time with your business. As such, it’s best to introduce the policy when your workload is low.

Need our help implementing flexible working arrangements?

If you need help implementing and managing flexible working arrangements, speak to a HR expert now on 01 886 0350 or request a callback here.

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