New Flexi-Work Legislation

By Robert Gorby, Marketing Director of Powwownow

On 30th June this year, it was announced that any employee who has been in their current job for 26 weeks or longer is entitled to request flexible working hours. These requests can include being able to work from home or different working times. Before this date, this was a law that only applied to those with young children or those acting as a carer for a family member.

Flexible working is a term that has been coined alongside technological development and refers to a way of working that suits an employee’s needs, whether this is working from home or at non-typical hours. Although this may not seem a great benefit to employers at first, by employees not having to be bound by the drudgery of office working and commuting they will be able to get much more done in the time they have and means they will also be able to fit work around their personal lives too. Subsequently you will have happier, more motivated staff.

We recently surveyed UK workers to find out what effect the new law is going to have. 8% of respondents stated that they had already submitted a flexible working request since the law was passed and 11% said they were planning on doing so in the near future. So what affect will this have on businesses and employers?

Technology is becoming increasingly embedded in our day to day lives with the majority of us now personally owning at least one piece of modern day technology be it a smart phone or computer. People who once found themselves walking to the post room to send letters will now find themselves sitting at their desks sending instant emails from the click of a button and many people who once found their time engulfed by face to face meetings are likely to now find themselves speaking on conference calls from the comfort of their office.

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As with any developments, there are both advantages and disadvantages to the vast growth of technology in recent years. In terms of business and productivity however, it can only be seen as a benefit and is the reason as to why flexible working hours shouldn’t prove much of a problem for most employers.

If employees feel they are able to fulfill their duties both at work and home, they are more likely to work harder and more thoroughly when working. This is because pressure is relieved and they will feel more responsibility to getting the job done well. If a person feels guilty at spending time away from their family however or feel they are missing too many significant family events the opposite occurs and they will most likely feel demotivated at work and angry at the work that needs completing. Avoiding feelings of demotivation can also have financial benefits on the company by cutting absenteeism.

The survey carried out by Powwownow proves this in that the principle reason for wanting to request flexible working hours was so that more time could be spent with children (41%), followed by medical reasons (17%) and then a work / life balance (8%).

Technology now allows employees to stay in touch with colleagues, suppliers and customers all around the world from wherever they are which is a huge benefit to businesses as it means no one is ever out of touch and less time will be wasted catching up to speed. It also means parents can be at home with their children at the same time as doing their job.

The fact that workers do not have to travel to various locations as often because of conference calls and video chats saves companies significant expense that can be utilized in other, more pressing, ways. It also means businesses can employ staff based on their talent rather than their locality. This is a revelation for the business world and especially business owners.

Having the capacity to work on the go can lead to increased productivity as travel time is no longer wasted time. The TUC has recently reported that British workers spend an average of 200 hours per year commuting. It is obvious that this time could be used more beneficially when you are competing to make your business a success.

Replacing traditional work place structures with something more modern and fluid can also free up a lot of time and prevent clock watching. Getting work done will become the focus rather than having to be in the office for a set amount of time. Individuals work in their own unique way and this is something studies are revealing that we have to cater for. People are not machines and if they are treated as such they begin to feel run down. Enforcing a strict, one size fits all routine can be detrimental.

In summary, although technological developments have caused a shift in traditional working ways, many of these changes actually allow for more work to get done in a shorter space of time due to faster methods of communications and being able to work from any location at any time of day. The developments also mean employees can have a better work life balance, boosting morale and consequently productivity. The flexible working laws are a step in the right direction and in the future I expect more and more business will be done via technological mediums, making flexible working the norm.