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Flexible Working – Planning for Flexible Productivity

Nov 2022

This article discusses flexible working for business owners and company managers who oversee teams and group working. It explores the benefits, practicalities and best approaches to flexible working to help you devise a tailored employer strategy so that your employees can thrive from this modern and evolving way of working.
‘Going back to the work model that prevailed before the pandemic is a step backward. And your organisation can’t be resilient without rethinking strategies like hybrid workforce models’ (Gartner, 2021)

What is Flexible Working?

According to Gov.uk, flexible working can be described as;
‘A way of working that suits an employee’s needs, for example having flexible start and finish times, or working from home. This might include a variety of workplace locations, flexi-time hours or compressed shifts.’ Gov.uk
Hybrid working is a flexible work model using a blend of office based and remote work.  There is usually some autonomy over how workers can be most productive in the workplace. The rise in hybrid working has given employees more opportunity to shape their job around their lifestyle and having more choice about when and where they work. Whilst most companies are supportive of these new approaches, flexibility and wellbeing of employees, they also need to ensure their organisation retains a positive culture, that productivity remains high and that employees, especially younger ones, are receiving quality training and buddy-time with senior colleagues.

What are the advantages of flexible working?

The growth of flexible work spaces has continued to rise since the pandemic.  These environments appeal to a wide range of companies, from small business owners or to managers of larger companies who want to downsize and distribute their staff. Whether you have a team with a structured hybrid set-up that offers predictability, or offer a more ad-hoc week-by-week approach, there are many advantages to flexible working.  For example, an increase in productivity, quicker adoption of modern technologies, less wasted travel time and improvements in the wellbeing of employees. Often, a kinder, more sensitive attitude from employers also evolves. Self care has certainly risen up the list of many employees' agendas.  Wellbeing is no longer something left to the sidelines.  As an employer, you’ll need to ensure that you are nurturing a supportive culture and acting as wellbeing leaders. Allowing your employees to feel that it’s okay to take a break and ensuring that you encourage healthy work patterns, e.g. not replying to emails out of hours, can all be helpful with team morale.  Of course, nurturing can be challenging, so a little empathy and understanding will go a long way.  Remember, happy workers that feel valued are far more likely to be productive in their role.

What’s in it for me?

So how does flexible working benefit you as a business? Well, there are quite a few!  You might be able to downsize your offices which in turn might lead to greater profitability as your overheads are reduced.  If employees don’t require a permanent desk, you might be able to explore hot desking or CoWorking office spaces.  These will likely cost you less overall, allowing funds that would have otherwise been spent on high rents, to go back into developing your business. And environmentally you’ll be doing well as there’ll be less staff commuting. Big tick. Of course, closing all your offices and going fully remote might not be healthy for the business overall though.  Which is where something like a CoWorking office space comes in really handy. CoWorking offices are designed with professionalism and productivity in mind.  Flexibility is key -  there when your staff need them without any long-term commitments.  They also provide ample opportunities to network (see our post on Networking here) and allow you to encourage flexible working amongst your team.

Ensure you stay connected

Ensure you stay connected with work colleagues Connection is essential when it comes to successful flexible working. Human connection is what makes us thrive and, if we’re not together all the time, then the risk is that we start to feel disconnected.  Ensure everyone stays connected by having access to safe, secure and reliable networks. Think about what you need from your team.  Flexible working takes more organising at first, as we consider how our teams can be most productive - and where.  But it can be beneficial to motivation and overall productivity. Tasks that require solitary focus might be better with less distractions at home.  And for those times when you need to hold collaborative meetings - a local CoWorking flexible workspace (with superfast WiFi and super nice coffee) could be just the ticket.

How to keep your culture alive

It’s easy to jump onto a Zoom meeting and get straight into the business of the day - but make a conscious effort to connect first. Think about all those informal brief chats that might be lost when we switch to more flexible ways of working.  They’re still important for employee retention - and in turn, revenue growth. But resist the temptation to micromanage your employees.  Check in on them and make sure they’re being productive.  But don’t hassle them. Know the strengths and weaknesses of your employees - trust them and be a confident delegator.

Flexible workspace options in and around Woking from Collaborate WorksCollaborate: your local flexible workspace

Based in the heart of Woking, Collaborate can cater for all of your flexible working needs.  Whether you’re looking for desks to hire or a dedicated workspace to use as your own, we can provide you with the workspace that you require. We also have meeting rooms for hire, perfect for those times when you need to physically sit around a table and bounce ideas off one another as a team. Or you can use us as your registered address and virtual office - let us do the work for you.                    

Book recommendations

Gov.uk by Cal Newport Flexible Working: How to Implement Flexibility in the Workplace to Improve Employee and Business Performance by Gemma Dale

This article was brought to you by Collaborate as part of our Better Working series. Collaborate is an independent business centre in central Woking, offering Serviced Offices, Coworking Desks, Meeting Rooms and Virtual Office services. If you’d like to provide some feedback or get in touch, feel free to Contact us.