SURVIVE AND THRIVE: Sustaining inclusive flexible working

Heart of the City | 23 July 2020 | News
SURVIVE AND THRIVE: Sustaining inclusive flexible working

The pandemic has forced many to work from home, but as businesses begin to reopen both employees and businesses are keen to take a flexible approach to working having seen the benefits it can have on employee motivation, loyalty, performance and business costs. But how can you embed flexible working into your businesses post COVID-19?

This week we were joined by Emma Stewart MBE, CEO & Co-Founder of Timewise. Emma began the session by defining flexible working. As flexible working can take many forms, it’s helpful to think about the ‘where’, ‘when’ and ‘how much’ time is spent working flexibly. She talked about the many benefits flexible working can have for a business, the increased demand and change in attitude towards remote working and shared some helpful tips on how to make the shift to long-term, inclusive flexible working.

Our top tips from the session:

  • To shift from being a reactive to proactive employer, where you actively encourage flexible working. Businesses should have strong leadership and a culture where people feel they can work flexibly, managers who are trained in communicating with their team and managing the team’s workload, and engaged employees who are part of the conversation.
  • To plan for the long term, managers should try to understand the demands of their team (both in their personal life and at work) and the business. Flexible working works best when it meets the needs of the business and individual. Look at your services and think about how flexible working can support these and even improve efficiency.
  • Start with piloting flexible working for a month, taking an informal approach, to see if it works for employees. During that time managers should have regular conversations and progress updates with their team to find out how they’re getting on and whether it’s working.
  • Be open about flexible working at the point of hire. When recruiting, clearly state what you’re looking for in terms of hours and number of days spent in the office or state that you are willing to discuss options during the interview. Be mindful that applicants often find it difficult to have conversations around flexible working. So, by being upfront from the offset will relieve the pressure on them and create a more inclusive recruitment process.
  • You’ll need different flexible working policies for different groups of staff, such as in cases where some of the workforce don’t come into an office. You’ll need to look at each role individually and assess whether flexible working is feasible – which in some cases it won’t be.

Additional resources

Emma also shared some helpful resources for line managers and employees:

Don’t miss the next Survive and Thrive sessions!

Join us on the 29 July for our final session before we break for the summer on business scenario planning. We’ll be joined by Heart of the City trustee Nick Turner, Founder and Managing Partner at Stratforma. Members can sign up to our webinars here and you can join as an associate member here.

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