The days of having a standard 9 to 5 job are coming to an increasing end with the integration of more and more flexible workers into business. But are you taking advantage of the benefits home working & flexible working can add to your business?
Legislation regarding the right to request flexible working first came into effect under the provisions set out in the Employment Rights Act 1996 (see our recent blog by clicking HERE), and since then the approach to flexible working has been like a roller coaster ride in a bid to keep up with moving technology, work-life balance demands, and forward thinking organisations tapping into previously ignored talent who don’t wish to face the daily commute and normal office hours. It now seems that Home Working is the most attractive solution for both employees and employers alike.
I remember a time when employers looked at a flexible working request like it was an open declaration that the employee no longer had any career aspirations, and that they would soon become the next ‘problem person’ to handle in the next round of performance appraisals. But that couldn’t be further from the truth in today’s business settings. Flexible working practices now include part-time working, term-time working, job sharing, flexitime, compressed hours, annual hours, home working, mobile working/teleworking, career breaks, commissioned outcomes and zero hours contracts – a wide spectrum of contracts to manage, but all providing ample business benefits for those employers wishing to embrace the flexible approach.
Many online retailers are adopting more diverse ways of working. Online retailer Amazon has announced expansion plans for 2017 which will create over 25,000 new part-time jobs at its dispatch centres in the US and 5,000 new jobs specifically identified as ‘work from home’ positions. Flexible working commentator Adrian Lewis of Activ Absence stated:
“Now that we have technology to manage people who work from home effectively, it is great to see large employers like Amazon using home working, as it can be cost effective for businesses as well as expanding the available talent pool. Home working helped us retain a valuable member of staff. Our other staff also work from home if they are too ill to come into the office but well enough to work. It’s been a great way to reduce our cost of sickness absence, the tech gives us the visibility we need.”
Steve Mosser, founder and CEO of Sensee, commented:
“At Sensee, and unlike other homeworking customer service companies, all our 800 homeworkers are employees rather than self-employed, and as a result we have the luxury of attracting a broad pool of talent, from people living in rural areas to people with disabilities, to working Mum’s”.
“For most companies, flexible working options are still a perk rather than standard operating procedure. However, forward-thinking organisations understand that trends are clearly moving towards embracing flexible work as a way of doing business, and I truly believe this method of working will become the norm rather than the exception.”
Of course, there can be disadvantages to having too many employees working flexibly, but in general the advantages outweigh these by a long shot. Benefits such as reduced absenteeism, increased ability to recruit, increased employee morale, engagement and commitment, reduced turnover and extended hours of operation are a few of the key highlights. Before deciding if a role if suitable for home working the business will need to carry out a full review of each role, its tasks and duties, logistical considerations as well as identifying technical solutions to ensure maximum gain from the set-up. Certain tasks might not be suitable for homeworking employees – for instance, the recent BBC broadcast where South Korean expert reporter Robert Kelly conducted a live interview from his home resulted in the story going viral due to his children wandering in the room mid-way through the report – much to the horror of his wife who tried to remove the children with commando type moves that left thousands of viewers in hysterics. Other issues to consider are:
- If the role requires regular telesales is the home location suitable? Is there background noise/distractions that would make the call seem unprofessional?
- Is the broadband coverage sufficient for the level of online tasks required in the role?
- Is the homeworking set-up ergonomically acceptable and does it meet DSE requirements?
- Have you agreed how work performance will be supervised and measured?
For those businesses considering homeworking as a fixed approach to their needs ACAS offer excellent initial advice as well as guidance booklets to download. For more comprehensive advice and expert HR support in this area simply click HERE to submit your details, and a member of our team to contact you directly to discuss further.