Flexible working breeds content

Things are looking up. In a recent survey by the British Chambers of Commerce, more than half of firms (54%) expect to increase their workforce over the next year.

So what are you doing to attract, recruit and retain the best people?

About a third of those businesses (38%) now offer flexibility and remote working arrangements. Harvey John is no exception. Like us, these companies found that looking after the well-being of their staff improves productivity. This is good for business and good for growth.

Where to start…

First, you need to have an open mind. Identify the needs of the business and your employees, but most of all your clients. Can you offer longer opening hours? Are there peaks and troughs which you can resource in a different way to give better service? Could you save space, make better use of equipment…save money?

Then it’s all about communication. No one size fits all, of course. The secret is to have a sensible conversation and come up with an arrangement to suit all. Set clear objectives and agree on what needs to be achieved and by when. What meetings do they have to attend, or can they join in via a conference call? Turn your focus from hours worked to performance and outcomes.

In fact, it’s not for everyone…

Some people find it a lonely experience. And those who struggle with the idea are not the kind of people who want it anyway. An experiment featured in the Harvard Business Review found that actually, it was the higher performers that liked it better. The more distracted preferred to stay in the office away from the temptations of the fridge and TV.

Not just parents and carers…

More and more people are looking for flexible working arrangements. Even graduates are beginning to expect it as the norm rather than the exception. When you think about it, it is just one part of the employment offer, like pay.

Let’s make it happen…

It needn’t cost you the earth if anything. Perhaps a dedicated server can allow staff to access your systems from their home computer. And it doesn’t have to be forever.  Flexibility is the name of the game, if you have to change the plan, come to another arrangement.

We need ways to make modern life work. It’s time to trust your staff. You’ll probably find you’ll get a lot more in return.

Georgina Trudgill is an Associate Director in the Finance division at Harvey John.

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