The Benefits of Flexible Working for Employers & Employees
In my experience, employers I have consulted with seem to believe that flexible working arrangements were something only younger employees sought out. It wasn’t seen as something that was aligned with those who were involved with the race to the top of the corporate ladder. Mercifully, things have changed considerably over the past ten years, and flexible working arrangements are now becoming more the norm than ever before.
People have asked me in the past, what is flexible work? To me, it means giving employees more flexibility to choose where, when, or how they work. There are two central flexible work arrangements: flexible locations and flexible time, both of which are provided by PF Solicitors when assigning consultant lawyers to clients.
While the benefits of working from home are immediately clear for employees, the advantages for employers are not always quite so obvious. Below, I have identified some benefits of remote working:
• Less time spent commuting
A reduction in the amount of time spent on a stressful and unpleasant commute is undoubtedly a benefit for employees, however that boon can be passed onto the employer through a boost in the wellbeing of their employees.
• Improved employee retention
One of the biggest headaches for small businesses is losing their employees to larger competitors who can offer better pay and benefits. Allowing employees to work from home can assist in the reduction of creche fees, for example, or just offer a better work-life balance, thus increasing employee retention.
• Attracting younger employees
For younger employees, workplace flexibility is one of many factors they consider when looking for a new role. Whereas in the past it would have been considered important to stay late to impress the boss, these days employees entering the workplace strive for a life beyond the workplace. Remote working effectively gives them their life back.
• Lower costs
As an employer, you’ll no doubt understand that having a physical footprint in an urban area can be expensive. By allowing your employees to work from home, or operating a hot-desking policy the rest of the time, you could reduce the amount of office space you need. Most offices are open-plan these days in any event, so the process of hot-desking is not such a major step to take in a world without locked offices.
The Legal position
In order to ensure that the process of flexible working is rolled out successfully in your business, having a robust policy is essential for dealing with employee requests in a manner that does not create tensions in the work environment. A dialogue between the employee and management should be at the core of any procedure. In short, any request needs to be dealt with objectively.
In tandem with this, an employer will obviously have its legal responsibilities stemming from the working time directive, the legislation surrounding part-time and fixed term workers, as well as any other policies that the business may have, for example in relation to remote working.
Aligned with the above is a category of workers who will likely benefit most from either flexible or remote working arrangements: parents returning to the workforce from maternity / paternity leave. In the vast number of cases, these tend to be women.
As a result, the Irish government has recently proposed the introduction of a novel concept, making it easier for women to re-enter the workplace with the introduction of “returnships” (essentially internships for those who have taken a prolonged period of time off work in the middle of their career).
Recent reports suggest that the Irish government has already consulted with some blue chip multinational companies about engaging in a pilot programme for women returning to the workforce.
The world is changing. Ways of doing things in the past are changing, and will continue to evolve over time. While there are absolutely parts of the economy, in which the employee experience is impacted negatively from changes to traditional working patterns, the concepts of flexible arrangements, or remote working patterns, are to me overall positive developments. If anything, it is a natural development of working practices in more affluent societies, where people being to value time over money.
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The material contained in this post is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Specific legal advice should be sought on any particular matter. No liability whatsoever is accepted by PF Solicitors for any action taken in reliance on the information in this post.