Legislation has given employees the right to request flexible working and compel employers to consider and put into practice in a reasonable time frame.
Facilities Managers have been critical to its implementation, teaming up with other main groups that include IT, human resources and real estate, all working together to develop a policy that ensures employers and employees alike benefit from the right work-life balance.
Here we provide a good and bad scenario before identifying a key strategy to implement flexible working successfully.
A good flexible working programme has the right underlying reasons for operating.
Employers need to ask themselves why they are making the changes, what both employer and employees will gain from them. Will flexible working improve production levels, will it provide better customer care, or will it result in more committed employees?
There needs to be wide and effective engagement with the user community who will need to accept change. Employees must be consulted. Are they worried that working part-time from home will damage their career prospects? As an employer are you worried about lack of control? Clarity of the end game is important, as you consider the outcome for each group of users.
Then there’s use of the right technology. Today’s workspace and scheduling software delivers improved room space utilisation, whilst lowering operating costs and providing the efficient booking processes needed to support flexible working.
The leadership team must embrace and lead relevant change, as everyone works together to sell the benefits and to make sure the feedback loop is open and inclusive
There needs to be excellent communications on the project with a focus on keeping everyone informed on how change is delivering benefits. And there needs to be an excitement among everyone involved.
To make flexible working operate efficiently, its aims must be clearly articulated, and everyone from the top down needs to be involved. If the person at the top merely implements it in an academic manner without any real staff engagement, it is doomed to fail.
Failure is also the result of poor research on the impact and benefits of change on a business, along with poor communication among staff about the initiative.
For it to work, the right groups need to be engaged or aligned. Bring in the wrong people or ignore those who have the insight to gauge the feelings of the workforce and the desired results will not be achieved.
Maybe you already have technology installed to handle room and workspace scheduling. But is it the right technology for the job in hand? Does it, for example, allow for hot desking? Do your staff have tablets or laptops that will allow them to work from anywhere with an internet connection? Answer no to any of those questions and it’s time to think again about your flexible working policy.
Flexible Working Checklist
Here’s a 12-point Checklist to Help You Get Flexible Working Right in Your Organisation:
- Start by identifying what employers and employees expect to get from flexible working.
- Think about the needs of your specific business.
- Plan changes well in advance.
- Make sure employers and employees keep in constant contact to identify what works best for all.
- Research, research, research to find out what works best for everyone concerned.
- Don’t be afraid to change your mind if research turns up something that you didn’t foresee, or didn’t initially approve of.
- Set up a task force to implement policies.
- Distribute a questionnaire about the suitability of flexible working, and listen to what the recipients have to say.
- Examine how flexible working will impact on areas such as production, staffing, supervisions, contracts, satisfaction and overall efficiency.
- Check that your flexible working policy is within the law as it was instigated in the legislation of 30th June 2014.
- Trial changes before implementing them.
- Keep a watchful eye on progress and continually monitor how the changes are working out.
For More Information on Implementing Flexible Working Practices with the Use of Technology, Please Visit www.nfs-hospitality.com/solutions/flexible_working.html.