From the end of June this year, all employees had the legal right to request flexible working hours (not just parents and carers). Employees must have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks to be eligible and their employers must deal with requests in a ‘reasonable manner’.
The benefits for employees seem quite obvious; more time with their families, less time sitting in traffic jams, more quiet thinking time, less distractions and of course there is always the added advantage of being able to fire up the laptop whilst cooking a bacon sarnie.
But what are the benefits for you as an employer for allowing your employees flexible working hours?
- Increased productivity – Not restricting employees to specific working hours has shown in many surveys that employees on increase their productivity whilst on flexi time.
- Happier staff – Being able to work to their own time demands without the worry of arranging childcare etc. equals less stress for your workforce, resulting in happier and more productive employees.
- Improved staff retention – Circumstances perpetually change, and family life, a long commute, or simply a busy social life can become hard to fit around the working week – there is a possibility that staff might leave if they can’t achieve a good work-life balance. Potential employees also might be more inclined to accept a job offer if they feel the role will allow them to effectively combine work with their personal life.
- Reduced sick days – Reports have shown that a number of sick days are slyly taken during big sporting events, so with flexible working hours allowing employees able to watch their favourite team games whilst working from home, this could significantly reduce sick days.
- Reduced overheads – Re-routing calls to employees working from home or having hardware working at half steam in your office could help you save significantly on your utility bills.
Now it’s not quite as simple as sending them home and hoping for the best, there are some technical issues you may be faced with. Let’s take a look at the basic needs for a productive flexible working arrangement.
- Remote access – When the bad weather hits our Service Desk is flooded with calls to initiate remote access to allow people to get on working from home. The important thing is to plan ahead and understand the different remote access solutions that are available, whether from simple VPN access to more sophisticated all-encompassing solutions.
- Accessing from any device anywhere – The increasing use of cloud based technologies can enable users to have much easier and simpler access to information. These types of solutions include Microsoft Office 365 and the Mirus file sharing solution MSync.
- Hosted or Virtual desktop – As the name suggested this is a way of working that gives the user a ‘virtual’ desktop hosted and running on the company’s own servers rather than their own individual machine. This has many advantages including increased data transfer efficiency, which means that if your connection is not the strongest, people will still be able to work to full capacity rather than use an alternative solutions such as VPN.
- Phone systems – VoIP phone technology allows you to harness the features and benefits of your company's phone system remotely. Dialling from your office's phone lines, having calls transferred, checking voice mail, intercom and conference calling are all features needed to work successfully from home.
- Internet Connectivity – The key to any remote working is the ability to access core business systems and data. If your internet access (and in particular the uploads speeds from your office) are not up to the job, then this make scupper any chances of many people working efficiently from remote location. We can start to examine what options you have available and the costs i.e. EFM/Leased Lines.
- Hardware – Its important that each member of your team has the correct equipment to be able to facilitate working from home. Clearly a desktop user cannot just pick up their equipment and take it home, a review of the devices used across your business may be necessary to understand any hardware or software needs.
So if you think that it may not be as crazy as you first thought to consider allowing flexible working hours within your business, just give our friendly sales team a call and see how we can help.