The Realities Of Flexible Working
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The Realities Of Flexible Working

26th November 2013
By Jacqui Beel

Surveys are constantly showing an increase in flexible working is one of the ways to attract the most talented staff. However, as Yahoos’ surprising decision at the start of the year shows, there are still some that need convincing of its merits.
With this in mind, here’s a quick look at the arguments around avoiding the office commute.

Work around other responsibilities

Particularly useful for parents, working flexible hours means that you can tailor them to fit around other responsibilities, such as the school run. This doesn’t mean working fewer hours, just not necessarily doing them all within the standard 9-5 framework.

Avoid travel costs

Working from home means avoiding paying the ever increasing costs incurred by travelling to and from the office each day. This also saves you time, which can be used more effectively whether on home or work items. For example, cooking and eating dinner with your family of an evening, rather than staring at a sweaty armpit while squashed on the train home.

Fewer distractions

Given the right working set up at home – clear desk, TV out of sight – there are likely to be far fewer distractions. With no one around to ask those annoying questions while you’re in mid-flow, you’re able to manage your own time effectively. This also means that when you do take a break it will be on your terms and so most likely be more relaxing and constructive.

Employers benefit too!

With fewer employees to cater for in the office this means that you are able to rent a smaller area, perhaps even sharing a space (and costs!) with another company. Offering flexible working is also seen as a benefit to many young families juggling child care and finances, so can give you the edge over competitors when it comes to recruitment.

Water cooler debates (hot gossip?)

Obviously there has to be some form of down side to flexible working. In the eyes of Marissa Mayer, Yahoo CEO, this is that ‘communication and collaboration’ happens best through impromptu conversations in the hallway.

Yes, it’s true that these kinds of unscheduled conversations can happen upon great ideas. But realistically, how much more often do they consist of polite small talk or swapping office gossip? It’s far more productive to schedule a call and hit the ground running.

If they can’t see me…

The other typical concern is that without being in the office, managers cannot see the work being produced. However, if measureable KPIs and goals are set, along with established channel communication, then it should be easy for a manager to tell whether the right level of work is being achieved, regardless of whether or not you can see it being produced. After all, what’s to say that the busy body with his head in the office computer isn’t actually just getting a head start on their Christmas shopping this year…?

So there it is, flexible working in a nutshell. Now we’d love to hear your experiences. Is it something that your company promotes and what impact do you think flexible working would have on the work you produce?