The future is flexible, but only with the right support
David Greenhalgh writes: According to Quinyx, two thirds of UK workers (67%) say that they face barriers when it comes to achieving greater flexibility at work, with the reaction of their employer being the highest concern. The same survey also found that one in six workers feel their manager would react badly to a request for greater flexibility, with a further 15% worrying that it would negatively impact their career progression.
This so-called ‘flexism’ means that employees can feel discriminated against for asking for, or even being on flexible working contracts once approved. Instead of relying on these requests, employers should have policies in place which encourage a flexible working culture, such as working from home policies and initiatives or flexi-time.
Technology can make a difference, too. Whilst it can be challenging for employers to monitor the true hours worked when employees are out of the office, technological advances mean that work can increasingly be undertaken anywhere – whether that is at home, from a co-working space or from the local coffee shop.
The important thing to note when it comes to employees working outside the office is that it can make it easier to blur the boundaries between work and home life, which has the potential to lead to stress and burn-out. To counteract this and encourage employees to keep these two areas separate, employers should have clear policies on working time which state whether replying to emails or answering calls outside of contracted hours is expected.
Flexible working is no longer considered by some employees to be a ‘perk’ of the job, but rather something that is expected to be written into contracts or at the very least, an option they can take if they wish to do so. By putting policies in place to not only encourage flexible working, but also stipulate what is expected from those that choose to work in this way, employees will be aware of the company’s position from the start and will feel supported in their decision to begin working more flexibly.