After the Flexible Working Bill passed through the final stages of the House of Lords, an employee engagement expert has called on employers to embrace better flexible working practices.
Ifty Nasir, founder and CEO of equity management platform Vestd, explained that the new law would provide huge benefits for both employees and employers.
He said: “Research continues to show that flexible working leads to increased productivity and employee happiness, and flexibility around working days and hours is becoming an increasingly important consideration for job hunters.
“Businesses of all sizes and across all sectors are facing a battle to retain and attract the best people so, while this legislation is designed with employees in mind, employers that are able to accommodate their workers’ flexible working requests are likely to see huge advantages.
“Vestd’s own research shows there is a huge disparity between sectors that are offering remote working, as one example of flexible working, and those that aren’t. But introducing this type of role could open up a wealth of talent to your business.
“Older workers, for example, might prefer a part-time role or reduced hours, whereas those with childcare considerations or additional medical needs would benefit from the option to work from home.”
What is the Flexible Working Bill?
On Monday 16 July, the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill, progressed through its third reading in the House of Lords, meaning it now only requires royal assent before becoming law.
The new plans, first introduced by Yasmin Qureshi MP, mean that employees will be able to request changes to where, when and how they work from day one of their employment. For example, workers who start a new job will be able to request for an amendment to their working hours, location or times straightaway, rather than waiting six months to submit a request.
Managers will also be required to consult with employees before rejecting flexible working requests and formally discuss alternative options, as well as responding to requests in two months.
What do employers need to consider when discussing flexible working?
Once you have made the decision to introduce flexible working, there are some key considerations for employers. Ifty has provided his key advice to make flexible working a success:
Clear processes and guidelines
“A successful company culture is based on trust and the same goes for flexible working. Staff need to know the policy is being applied consistently and fairly, and managers need to trust that their teams are continuing to meet their objectives.
“Setting out a clear company-wide policy will ensure everyone is working from the same page and can set out any rules. This could include core office hours for the whole team to catch up or how teams will report on progress.”
Create consistent communication
“If your team is used to being in the office full time, a more flexible approach will have a significant approach on how you communicate. This doesn’t mean your company’s culture will see a similar shift, but it’s important to focus on how you plan to keep communication consistent across the board.
“There are a range of tools you can use. At Vestd we are fully-remote and love Slack, but try to provide your team with a rough framework of when and how to get in touch with people most effectively. Our teams regularly schedule one-on-ones and our bi-annual company-wide retreats are a great opportunity to regroup as a team.”
Flexible working is no longer a perk
“There has been a lot of discussion about the so-called ‘perk-cession’ in the media, as employers look to shed traditional office-based perks and benefits, while employees demand more meaningful returns for their hard-work.
“At Vestd we’re big believers in the ‘ownership effect’ which shows that staff are more likely to be more productive if they have a slice of the action and we see first-hand the impact that sharing equity with teams can have on company culture and employee happiness.”