Flexible working is an increasingly common aspect of the ways in which businesses and organisations of all sizes function and operate.
Contemporary computing and communication technologies have made it possible for more and more people to collaborate remotely and do increasingly greater portions of their work from anywhere.
The result has been a broadly positive trend towards flexible working among employees who might otherwise have struggled to find a sustainable balance between managing busy lives and professional productivity.
Here are some key issues of consideration in this context for company directors and particularly for SMB bosses.
Everyone has the right to ask
Legislation introduced in recent years in the UK means that anyone employed anywhere in the country has a right to request flexible working arrangements as part of the way they perform their duties.
That request has to be submitted in writing and has to be responded to and decided upon within a period of no longer than three months.
Requests can be rejected
An employer, whether they’re a small, medium or large-scale operation, has the right to reject a request for flexible working from any member of their workforce.
There is a risk that the individual making the request will be disappointed and potentially quite disheartened by that decision but there is no obligation for the request to be accepted.
From an employer’s perspective, what’s crucial if such a request is being rejected is to communicate the underlying business reasons as clearly as possible to the employee involved.
Flexible working can mean different things
Flexible working can involve any from a wide range of different working patterns that vary from the norm within a given environment.
Working from home instead of from the office is perhaps the most obvious form of flexible working but is far from being the only one with temporary contracts, part-time working, job sharing and reduced hours all potentially part of the equation.
As we’ve already mentioned, there is no obligation for an employer simply to grant the request of a particular employee but there is an onus on them to seek to be accommodating to these requests where possible.
It may be that you as an employer cannot be quite as flexible as your employee would like but, with a little compromise and proper consideration, it could be that you’ll hit upon a win-win working situation.
Offering flexible working can be a competitive advantage
For some businesses, the option of offering flexible working simply isn’t there for very practical or logistical reasons. And it can be that a granting a flexible working request clearly isn’t in the interests of a particular business or its prospects going forward.
But where flexible working requests are perfectly reasonable and can be accommodated it is increasingly worth the while of employers to consider them carefully and grant them where there is no good reason not to.
Quality hires who make a consistently positive contribution to a business are very valuable assets indeed and allowing flexible working can often make the difference – for SMBs and large businesses alike – between retaining and losing high calibre employees.
As a further reading, you may also be interested in reading Top 10 Responsibilities of a Limited Company Director.