What does flexible working mean to you? It can include everything from flexi-time and working from home, to shift work and altered hours. Whichever it is to you, Lilli Hender from OfficeGenie.co.uk shares her top tips for making flexible-working work for you.
Flexible working: Know your rights
Flexible working lends itself more easily to certain careers* but as of 2014 all employees have the right to request flexible working. If you’ve been with your employer for 26 weeks or more, you are able to ask for the option to work flexibly and they must, by law, respond in a ‘reasonable manner’.
Note, you have the right to request flexible working, not be granted it! It is important to find out as much as you can before making the request. Depending on the company, you may need to consult your HR advisor in addition to your line manager. Here is a great article about learning how to ask for flexible working.
*Primary school teachers may have a more difficult time working from home than let’s say, a social media manager at a startup.
Just as your idea of flexible working will differ from your colleagues’, one employer’s view of flexible working will be very different to another’s.
Whether it is having the option to start and finish your day half an hour earlier/later, to being able to work from home half the week, flexible working can mean a lot to loyal employees such as yourself.
If you work in a close-knit team it may not be advisable to regularly work from home, if there’s a chance it would damage team relations.
That said, if certain tasks lend themselves to peace and quiet (we all know how difficult this can be to find in certain office environments!), working from home can be a brilliant option.
Flexible working requires a certain amount of trust on the part of the employer, so it makes sense to limit the ways in which mistrust can spread.
Shifting to a results-driven perspective rather than a time-spent perspective can be effective for both the employee and employer.
If time is an issue, there are a number of methods you can use to keep a record of the hours worked: time sheets, email updates to line managers, company-wide excel sheets, and more.
The less convoluted the method is, the better – you want to document your hours, not waste them! Time-management apps such as Toggl can really help with this.
Being granted the opportunity to experience flexible working means you are now completely free, right? Right?! Not quite. Most of the time, it requires a degree of planning, on top of doing the work that you have to do anyway.
Much like documentation can smooth some of the problems associated with flexible working, good communication is the cornerstone of making flexible working work for you. When you’re not sharing the same hours or workspace as your team it’s important to maintain regular contact to ensure you’re on the same page and progressing simultaneously.
Rather than springing a change in your working pattern on your manager and your team, discuss your plans openly and within enough time to enable necessary workload adaptations.
One of the key things to take into account when discussing flexible working is the commitment it requires.
It helps to have clearly defined rules and expectations whilst remaining open to new, more effective, suggestions.
When you make flexible working work for you, it can be a brilliant addition to a business!
We’d love to hear how your company offers it’s employees flexible working or hear your tips if you’ve made a transition into flexible working in the comments section below.