Why Flexible Working Could Help Boost Your Business Bottom Line

Just imagine it. No more nine to five. Picking the hours you want to work. Not having to arrange childcare all day, every day. Starting before the birds get up, if you like mornings. Or working until the birds get up, if you’re a night person.

Well, at some businesses, it’s not a case of dreaming about it. It’s a reality. From huge global organizations, like Netflix, Johnson & Johnson and LinkedIn, to burgeoning start-ups, flexible working policies are showing their benefits in more ways than one.

And these benefits aren’t just for the employees. In fact, it’s the businesses themselves that are getting the most back for that small bit of freedom and trust. At Johnson & Johnson, over 90 percent of mothers return to work after maternity leave - much higher than the average. This company loyalty is seen time and time again. As is a stronger work ethic, higher levels of productivity, and a higher likelihood of attracting the top talent.

So, what is flexible working?

Flexible working means different things to different people. For some, it might mean being able to shift your working hours by half an hour. For others, it’s being able to take an extended lunch break to fit in a doctor’s appointment. But for all, it’s the notion that a company understands that you have a life - and isn’t trying to stamp it out.

Policies will change from business to business, and even from employee to employee. But the general gist involves giving employees more freedom with their working hours. This could include everything from letting employees choose their own hours (within reason), to letting staff work remotely.

We’re going to look at some of the best benefits you can expect to see if you roll out a flexible working policy.

Snap up the top talent

People no longer stay in a job for life. In the US, the average length of time in one job is 4.6 years. And because people aren’t afraid to leave when a company no longer pleases them, businesses around the world are having to get their act together. To attract and retain the top talent, companies are really pushing the boat out. They’re offering higher salaries, more attractive holiday packages, and most importantly, flexible working.

PwC conducted a global survey of over 44,000 millennials - who made up 80 percent of their workforce in 2016 - and found that the standard nine to five is putting them off. 64 percent want to occasionally work from home, and 66 percent would like to shift their work hours.

And not only will you attract more millennials, but you’ll be able to attract top workers from around the world. If you can set up a secure, reliable remote working system, the world’s your oyster. You’re no longer limited by location - and nor are your employees. Being able to work from home is a huge plus for many people. And not only does it show that you’re willing to accommodate their lifestyle - but it shows that you trust them.

In a survey conducted by Vodafone, 58 percent of respondents said they believed that their flexible working policy improved their company’s reputation and image.

The work never stops

And for once, it’s not a bad thing. Flexible working means you can be online and present for any of your customers, partners or employees, regardless of where you all are. So, that deal you want to secure on the other side of the world? Easy. Just switch your working hours, and it’s done.

Likewise, your business doesn’t need to grind to a halt when the school holidays start. If your employees can work from home, or take flexible hours, they can spend time with their children, while finishing off important projects.

You can help employees make the most of travel too. If you’ve got a secure remote working set-up sorted, their daily commute or any business-related travel can be filled with any admin or work duties. Flexible working helps you keep your business on the go - as long as your employees have a connection, they can work wherever they are.

Save overhead costs

If you have a flexible workforce, you don’t need as much space. It’s pretty simple. You can save money on rental and on hardware and software too. If your team is working remotely, you can wave goodbye to expensive phone lines, and start using better quality, more economic VoIP (voice over internet protocol) systems, like Skype for Business.

A Vodafone study of businesses in the UK found that companies could save £34bn by adopting flexible working. That’s a huge amount - and all thanks to freeing up desk space, and reducing large overheads. And when a third of business decision-makers haven’t thought about using flexible working to cut costs, you can stay ahead of the crowd and save money before your competitors realise what’s going on.

If you’re after any other ways to cut costs in business, Michael Banks, founder of The Fortunate Investor, has plenty of tips and tricks for you.

You’ll also save money on late arrivals and absenteeism. If an employee is feeling too great and has to come into the office, they’re likely to phone in sick. But if they can complete their day’s work from the comfort of their own home - well of course they will. So, they still get paid and don’t have to feel ill sat in an office, and you don’t have to lose a day’s worth of productivity.

Beat your competition

Now, we’ve written about this one before, in a blog post that you can see here. But flexible working is a sure-fire way to boost your appeal over your competitors.

Why? Because not only will you have a happier, more productive workforce, but you’ll be attracting the best talent. And with talented, happy, productive employees, your customers will be pleased. Then they’ll choose to work with you, rather than anyone else.

It’s all about putting the foundations in place. If you can make your employees happy, they’ll keep your customers happy. And if both of them are happy - then your bottom line definitely will be.

Increase productivity and efficiency

It’s an obvious one: people work harder for people they like. If you show your employees that you trust them, and that you appreciate they have other responsibilities in life, they’re almost guaranteed to work harder for you. They’ll want to prove that working from home or flexible hours work - so they’ll put even more effort into their day to day duties.

The Vodafone study we mentioned earlier found that 54 percent of employees said that flexible working makes them more productive. And 61 percent of the businesses said that flexible working had increased their profits. 83 percent said that flexi-time also increased employee productivity.

It’s hard to argue with those kinds of statistics.

When your employees have the time and freedom to organize their lives around work, you don’t just get less sick days and more work. You get happier, healthier people. You get a workforce who won’t burn out after a year or two. You get a team who recognizes their benefits, and works extra hard to show they’ve earned their privileges.

While there’s still plenty of stigma attached to flexible and remote working, times are changing. And if you want to make the most of it, you need to act now. Implementing a flexible hours policy takes planning and work, but it’s worth it. You can find out what steps to take next in this article. The key takeaways are learning how your business functions, and working together to find a solution that suits both employee and employer needs.

Have you implemented a flexible working policy? Let us know in the comments.  

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