How Flexible Working Can Help Your Business

Published: 3 Nov 2021

When the Covid-19 pandemic swept across the world in spring 2020, businesses were faced with more than one novel dilemma. When the choice came down to employees being based outside the office or shutting down your business, most companies had to find new ways for their staff to keep working.

Less rigid employment styles have been growing over the years, so the sudden change to more flexible working patterns was easier for some employers. For example, in industries such as IT, more versatile working styles have long been the norm. For others, this shift was problematic because they were completely tied into the standard office structure and had no established policies, rules or procedures to cope with getting work done anywhere but in a standard team of people all collected in one office.

Whether your business is strictly traditional or modern and adaptable, by now most companies will have at least some of their workforce regularly employed outside the typical office of three years ago. According to Statistica, the number of people working from home rose by 1.69 million in 2020; and as of June 2021, 44% of employees between the ages of 30 and 49 are now working from home on a full-time basis. It looks like that's not going to change anytime soon. The Office for National Statistics has found that only 37% of businesses who are still trading through the pandemic expect their workforce to return to their normal place of work within three months.

Benefits of Flexible Working

Research has shown that flexible working has broad advantages for workers. Some of those benefits are as follows:

  • Promotes a better work-life balance. Before anyone had even heard of Covid-19, the CIPD reported that 20% of people struggle with stress caused by the conflicting demands of work and home life. Less rigid patterns of employment offer a way to better manage family and job commitments. This is particularly true for women, who are still the principal carers for children and elderly relatives.
  • Encourages improved health and wellbeing. One study found that giving individuals some choice in their working hours and location gives them a sense of control which, in turn, improves their job satisfaction, commitment and sense of wellbeing. The study participants also reported lower levels of stress and illness, resulting in fewer sick days.
  • Improves equality of access to employment. It has been shown that being able to work in a more varied pattern in terms of location and hours provides a way to manage personal issues like disability or long-term health conditions. Within these more flexible structures, people formerly marginalised by these conditions have new and better career opportunities.

The benefits to employees of more fluid styles of working are clear. What might be surprising, though, is that these positives are more than mirrored for employers. Companies enjoy a long list of beneficial effects of a looser corporate structure, of which these are just a few:

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  • Staff recruitment and retention. In the UK, more than 14 million people say that flexible working is the primary benefit they look for in a job. Companies who offer flexible contracts can therefore attract and keep the most talented people.
  • Good morale and positive working environment. With employees enjoying better health and wellbeing, you lose fewer days to illness. At the same time you promote a trusting, team-focused company culture which is good for happy employee, loyalty and productivity.
  • Access to top talent. It's simple - if being located in your particular office in your particular town from Monday to Friday is no longer a requirement for you, then you can hire the best people to work for you. When you make the work available anywhere, anytime, then doesn't matter where in the world your employees are located.
  • More economical. Companies with a flexible working ethos can save money in a host of new ways. No more expensive inner-city office suites, and no more hiring one full-time person when what you really need is three different people for different parts of a role and at different times.

Types of Flexible Working

Work flexibility is a generic expression, but a definition for what it means in practice is an adjustable or fluid style of employment in terms of how, when, where, or for how long a person works.

You can have people working long hours, but fewer days each week, or fewer hours overall. Perhaps you have people who work entirely remotely and you only ever see them online, or maybe some individuals have a hybrid working pattern of some time in the office and some time out.

For a startup or small business especially, one of the most useful features of flexible working is the ability to hire casual staff who are experts in their field. You might not need them full-time or long-term, but you're able to hire highly-skilled people on an ad hoc basis. Staffing your business this way not only means you can hire the best, but it's also cost-effective because you only have to pay for the work without any of the overheads you get with contracted full-time or part-time staff.

You can hire a freelancer to do this one-off type of work for you, or alternatively use the services like extrahand.io who will provide pre-vetted experts to fulfil all your support staff needs. Whether you're looking for content writing, editing of text, photos or videos, website development, personal assistance or even marketing campaigns, you can hire the best person for the job, and only that job. What's more, there's no risk because their work is already tried and tested for you.

As more people head back to into their new permanent ways of working, one thing is clear; the universal traditional office as we knew it is gone for ever. With all the alternative options available, that's good news for workers and good news for you.