How to Successfully Implement Flexible Working?
Flexible working is a way of working that accommodates an employee’s needs, for example having flexible start and finish times or working from home. The growing demand for flexible working since the beginning of the pandemic has created a need for practical guidance for employers, to help them implement this practice successfully in their workplace. It’s now known that, if successfully implemented, flexible working can help organisations be more responsive to change, attract talent and improve employee job satisfaction and general wellbeing.
After analysing 10 cross-sector case studies, based on interviews with an HR professional, a line manager and a flexible worker from each organisation for a rounded perspective, the CIPD have produced a guide for employers with insights and recommended actions on what works best in terms of flexible working, even in areas and roles traditionally thought as unsuitable. The case studies include Transport for London, Lendlease, GLF Schools and a NHS Trust.
The insights and recommendations in this CIPD guide cover the following questions that a lot of you might have, offering some answers:
- How do you improve and promote uptake of flexible working? By promoting its benefits to individuals and the business, and by building a strong business case for it. To do that, finding a compelling hook that will gain traction in the organisation is crucial, such as recruitment, retention, the gender pay gap or other current concerns.
- How do you successfully implement flexible working? By understanding your organisational context, which includes the culture and the infra-structure available such as It and HR support, by mapping and considering the facilitators and barriers to flexible working at organisational and management levels, and by gaining senior buy-in through sharing success stories.
The barriers could be stigma, myths around what flexible working is and who it is for, negative attitudes and poor job design. As it can be a challenge to know how best to overcome those barriers and to adequately communicate the positive impacts flexible working, the CIPD put together a toolkit based on this research findings. The toolkit covers some practical aspects such as how to put together a business case and get senior buy-in, with a list of benefits and statistics. It also brings a very useful check-list to help you map and identify the facilitators and barriers of flexible working in your organisation, so that you can consider and address them before you begin the process of implementing this practice in your workplace.
- How do you measure and evaluate the impact of flexible working? By using some tools and metrics such as employee surveys, staff turnover, sickness absence data, KPIs, travel time and expenses saved, etc, and by trialling it first if needed. The toolkit brings a chart which takes you through the different stages and methods of data collection, and you can use it to identify effective ways to measure, monitor and evaluate your flexible working practices.
There is also a flexible working journey planner tool, where you can select options from a list to receive tailored recommendations outlining the actions you can take to improve flexible working in your organisation.
As a conclusion, this CIPD guide sets 10 key recommendations for employers to implement flexible working successfully. These recommendations include, in addition to the ones previously discussed:
- Find creative ways to offer a range of flexible working practices for all employees, including building flexibility into job roles that have not traditionally been seen as suitable for flexible working, such as customer-facing roles, and in sectors like manufacturing.
- Aim to hire flexibly and design the jobs to suit the flexible pattern. Check the toolkit to see some ideas on how to incorporate flexible working into your recruitment process.
- Ensure ongoing access to career development for flexible workers.
- Measure and evaluate flexible working, learn from your trials and adjust.
By adapting these insights and recommendations to your organisation’s unique culture and needs, you can successfully enable flexible working in your workplace and enjoy its benefits. Share your thoughts, learning and success stories with us.