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Flexible working is here to stay; is your business thinking ahead?

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Posted by David Price on 20th May 2022

General

Whilst forward-thinking employers have, for some time, been gaining a competitive advantage through a commitment to flexible working as part of their employer proposition, the pandemic has only served to sharpen the focus for employers on what it takes to attract the best talent and support them to achieve their potential.

With many businesses publicly stating their commitment to flexible working in recent months (Airbnb being a prime example), you may be considering what this means for you and your own business. Whilst the specifics will vary by industry and scale, one thing is for certain; for a business to successfully navigate the challenges of a world post-pandemic, they must understand their “Why”, “What” and “How” regarding flexible working…

Why is flexible working good for our business, our people and our customers?

Understanding the advantages of flexible working is the fundamental starting point for developing a clear strategy. Unfortunately, many employers have fallen into the trap of thinking that the only group who benefit from flexible working are the staff who can work “where and when they like”. This view is too simplistic and misses the significant commercial advantages which can be gained through having a clear, well-considered approach.

At Wolferstans, we care passionately about creating a working environment where our people can be their best and believe that this allows them to deliver exceptional legal experiences for our clients. Our ethos is built around the principle that happy, healthy, and motivated staff will deliver the best possible outcomes for our clients and encourage them to recommend us to friends and family.

What might work in our business? What definitely won’t work?

Whilst flexible working has many advantages, these will vary from business to business. It may seem obvious to say, but what might work well for a contact centre may not be appropriate for a manufacturing facility.

Taking the time to carefully consider the implications of initiatives such as remote working and what the advantages and challenges might be in your specific situation is an important step, but don’t feel you need to do this alone; your staff, customers and suppliers may have useful ideas and input – don’t be afraid to ask them!

For some of our people, flexible working means start and finish times are tailored around the school run or the option of working remotely during the week; for others, an office-based role with 9am-5pm working hours may be more appropriate due to the nature of their roles. Whenever we discuss flexible arrangements with our people, we must satisfy ourselves (as a minimum) that they will not negatively impact our ability to deliver to our clients.

How do we articulate our approach to staff, customers, and candidates?

At this stage, if an employer is unprepared for open and honest dialogue during a recruitment process about the attitudes and considerations which underpin their approach to flexible working, they are placing themselves at a serious disadvantage in an extremely competitive market when it comes to attracting top talent to their business.

At Wolferstans, we are committed to engaging with each of our employees about the solution which works best for them and for our clients. When interviewing candidates, we want to understand how, when and where they’ll do their best work and how this would work alongside our existing team before making any decisions.

To compete for talent now and in the future, employers must be able to articulate their approach to flexible working to the market as a whole, as well as to individual candidates.

  • Why do we value employees working from home?
  • What benefits do we see in collaborative working in a shared location/office?
  • What flexibility is available around working hours and why might some timings be non-negotiable? 

Unless an employer is able to answer these questions for themselves and share the answers with existing and potential new employees alike, they will almost certainly notice the impact on recruitment and retention of talented people.