Expert Insight

  • Ask the panel: Flexible work - What more needs to be done?

Ask the panel: Flexible work – what more needs to be done?

 

Ask the panel: Flexible work – what more needs to be done?

The recently published Taylor Review on modern working practises states that “encouraging flexible work is good for everyone and has been shown to have a positive impact on productivity, worker retention and quality of work”. Move Commercial asks business leaders across the region:

Q: Do enough companies in the North West offer flexible working and what more needs to be done?

Ross Wellman
commercial director, Vincents Solicitors

A lot of companies do recognise the benefits, including some of the world’s biggest and most successful.

There are three staff within my own team on such an arrangement and I firmly believe it results in happier, more productive and loyal employees, which is better for them and for the business.

For some the old assumptions still pervade, fearing lower productivity, staff taking liberties, or that everyone will want it. But that’s just not the reality.

In fact, many bosses find their flexible workers go over and above just to demonstrate they are as keen and loyal as their nine to five counterparts.

It’s often ignorance of employees’ legal right to request flexible working and worries over how to make it work in practice that puts businesses off. But any forward thinking organisation which values its workforce will need to consider such arrangements otherwise it could be left behind as basic market forces will dictate where the good employees choose to stay.

 

Emma Carey  
head of family, MSB Solicitors  

Professional firms have traditionally been quite reticent about promoting a family-friendly environment, believing it disrupts the business.

We take the opposite view and recognise that people work to live – they don’t live to work. They want to bring up families and have a career and women shouldn’t have to make a choice.

We have found that by offering flexible ways of working things like home working days, keep in touch days and a more relaxed approach to on and off the clock working what we get in return is a highly-motivated team that feels valued.

Moreover we have fantastic staff retention, which in turn is of massive benefit to our clients.

 

David Potts 
chief executive officer, GSTS 

Not every job role is suited to flexible working, particularly in the security and facilities management sector where round-the-clock attendance may be required.

That puts the onus on good employers to think laterally, and our solution has been to provide our field staff with the support of an employee assistance manager. He can ensure they feel connected to base in a meaningful way and offer case-by case support, career progression advice and a sounding board for operational ideas and improvements.

It’s a first for our industry, which is traditionally poor at employee training and welfare. We know that by going the extra mile with all our team – not just those in head office whose roles are better suited to flexible working – our clients will notice the return on investment in improved staff performance.

And that’s the point: flexible working and employee care offer a win:win but it surprises me how few bosses appreciate this.

 

Julie Waring 
partner, Morecrofts Solicitors 

Flexible working has reaped huge rewards for our business and I would urge more companies to adopt a similar approach.

Our ethos centres on the understanding that people have different needs inside and outside of work, especially if they have children.

Parents often struggle with childcare arrangements beyond school hours, plus the expense may account for a sizeable portion of their income.

Flexible working allows them to manage that timetable more easily, whether it’s through using technology to work at home or agreeing truncated hours on certain days to fit their needs.

In return for our flexibility we get highly motivated, engaged people at all levels who are likely to stay with us for longer – a theory borne out by excellent staff retention figures.

More employers should encourage, rather than simply allow, flexible working. It could be the best business decision they ever make.