The global pandemic changed the way that many of us work, and for some, it changed their perspective on work and how the balance with home life should be conducted. This means that there is a new focus on flexible working rights for employees, so it is important to understand what employee entitlements are and how to handle them.
Flexible work policies
A flexible work policy should protect both employees and businesses by making it clear what should and should not be expected. It gives employees the power to make reasonable requests about their working situation, knowing what opportunities are open to them and what they are entitled to.
More businesses are revisiting their flexible work policies which outline how teams are expected to work and communicate. It should cover who can work remotely and whether any of this can be done abroad. The policy should also look at working hours, forms of communication, office working, financial expenses and the wellbeing of employees.
A flexible working policy should reflect the name; it does not need a set of hard and fast rules, instead, it should empower employees to work in the way that suits them to get the best results for everybody.
Remote working was something that was resisted by many businesses until the lockdowns made it essential. Businesses are now realising that this can be a more practical option than first thought, although it will still not be possible for some. Even for those who need to be based in the office, allowing some opportunities to work from home can improve employee engagement. This means that employees do not need to be at home all of the time, and a schedule combining both can be beneficial for both staff and employers.
Remote working doesn’t always mean being at home, as employees could also be in a different country entirely. It is possible to include this in a flexible working policy, but you should take into account operational concerns such as time differences, visas and taxation.
Many employees are looking for more flexible arrangements around working hours in order to fit in with their families or other commitments. This might include the ability to pick children up from school or be at home during the holidays. Some employees might want to start work early in the morning in order to finish early or opt for a later start that allows them to continue into the evening.
To make this work, there will need to be a set of clear processes, such as whether there are core hours where an employee must be at work for meetings to be organised. Think about how you will monitor the number of hours that will be worked and whether a certain number of people need to be available at any one time.
If an employee is going to work remotely, then it is important to ensure that they have everything they need to do so. The policy will need to clarify whether the business will make any provision for laptops, phones or even Wi-Fi, and how this equipment can be used. Some businesses choose to offer budgets to purchase workspace items, or this could be covered through a pay rise.
It is important to remember that government guidance on flexible working can change, and so you must keep on top of this and adapt your flexible working policy accordingly. Flexibility can seem as though it works in the favour of the employee, but by offering this kind of freedom, you are more likely to have a happy, engaged and productive workforce that can benefit your business and offer a form of loyalty that you may not have experienced before.