Tag Archives: Business

Protecting Business Productivity with Agile Working

Avoid Threats Posed by Further Strikes with Flexible Working

After recent news of the threat of London tube strikes, there are fears that further rows could erupt, with the potential to cause maximum disruption and widespread chaos.

A strike planned for 14th October by London Underground workers in a dispute over austerity led cuts was abandoned after last-ditch talks. The breakthrough was made after ‘substantial progress’ was made by  the Rail, Maritime and Transport union in the ongoing issue of cuts and Tube ticket office closures

But does this mark the end of the dispute? According to some, it is unlikely that this is the end of the matter. Despite negotiations, the threat of disruptive industrial action still looms large.

The possibility of strike action strengthens the case for flexible working. With new technology, employees are more and more able to work remotely, including from their own homes. This, coupled with new statistics on the efficacy of flexible working further questions the relevancy of the traditional office in a digital age.

These recent events (and June’s changes to flexible working) show that it is high time for businesses to reassess, and view flexible working as a means of protecting their business from the chaos that would result from transport strikes, while simultaneously building an infrastructure which promotes growth.

Strikes aside, it was estimated by the CEBR that drivers in London spent more than 250 hours idling in traffic in 2013 and this was likely to increase to 299 hours by 2030, equivalent to 40 working days a year, suggesting that increased agile working would help to improve the productivity of workers affected by transport difficulties.

Homeworking/remote working refers to work done at home, or outwith the primary office environment. However, remote working may also refer to situations where only part of an employee’s workload is completed outside of the office. Therefore, it is reasonable to suggest that a degree of remote working could be introduced into the majority of employees’ schedules.

For businesses wishing to check up on the productivity of their workers, there are monitoring systems in place and this can reassure employers. There is also much to be said about the cost-effective nature of remote working. In a recent study by Deloitte it was found that 30 to 40 percent of physical working environment are vacant at any given moment on an average business day. Decrease reliance on offices and cut overhead costs unnecessary costs. There is even evidence that allow workers greater flexibility will boost productivity. Finally, increased flexible working could also be beneficial for the environment, in that cutting commuter traffic in busy cities would dramatically reduce carbon emissions.

While no-one can say for sure whether or not the threat of London Tube Strikes has subsided, now certainly seems like a good time for employees to take into account the diverse benefits that remote working can bring.

How the UK Skills Shortage Will Boost Flexible Working

War on Talent Continues as Top Talent Demand Flexible Working

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August 2014 saw a record drop in the number of candidates applying for permanent and full-time jobs, a recent report commissioned by the Bank of Scotland has revealed

The Bank of Scotland chief economist Donald MacRae consolidates the report’s findings: ‘There was a record drop in people available for jobs and growing evidence of strong growth in pay, confirming the tightening of the jobs market’. However, this drop has been countered by a marked increase in individuals applying for short-term and part-time roles, confirming that the Scottish jobs market continues to go “from strength to strength”.

The change may be interpreted as a result of the skills shortage currently affecting the UK. A dearth of skilled candidates means that certain sectors continue to struggle to fill full-time positions, including the medical and care sectors, IT and computing and the engineering sector.

“A huge number of skilled candidates have been excluded from the job market because of a lack of part-time roles and flexible working positions. The ongoing skills shortage means that these professionals are highly sought-after, and are in a strong position to dictate their salaries and working conditions, including work schedules’. Flexiworkforce CEO Tracey Eker confirms.

Nevertheless, the growth in flexible, part-time and short contract positions may also be seen as a boon for employers seeking to broaden their talent pool by increasing their access talented candidates.

By hiring candidates on a flexible basis, companies can effectively get the skills that their business needs, for the money they can afford, something especially vital for emerging SMEs, many of whom rely on contractual workers. In particular, engineering and construction saw a marked increase in temporary job openings. This suggests that this rise modern flexible working has come about as a mutually beneficial option, resulting from the convergence in the needs of employees and businesses.

The skills shortage shows no sign of stopping, meaning that level of bargaining power that workers have to negotiate their working conditions is only set to increase. As the war for talent rages on, it is likely that flexibility will be a major factor in determine which companies ultimately survive, thrive and fail.

‘The last bastion of differentiation in the fight for mind share and market share for a business is its people. Yet hiring, retaining and motivating the best talent is no easy task in an age where loyalty to one job for life, or even five years, is starting to sound prehistoric’. Eker states.

‘Developing a flexible company culture that will help attract, retain and motivate the best employees to achieve amazing results is essential’.

Click here for more information on how you can hire the best candidates for your business.

Is Your Work ‘School for Grown Ups’?

Productivity and choice vs. Arbitrary Rules and Regulations

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Work is, essentially, school for grown ups. At least, that is the view of entrepreneur Emma Sexton, who swapped the 9-5 for running her own business.
In a recent Guardian article, she explains how her lack of faith in ‘unnecessary rules’ lead her to seek a more results oriented work life, in which productivity counts for more than doggedly sticking to conventional office hours and regulations:

‘It involves a number of other unnecessary rules, such as getting exactly 23.5 days holiday per year. What? How dare you tell me how much time off from work I can have. Do you own me?’

Frustrated by the system, Emma resorted to leaving her job in order to run her own business. While this may seem an extreme measure, Emma’s decision reflects a dilemma faced by countless individuals, disillusioned by arbitrary rules, and employers who do not allow them the freedom of working in more agile manner. ‘I am now in the second year of having my own business and working harder than ever. Yet the freedom to make up my own rules is incredible’, she states.

Sexton is, by no means, alone in her experiences. Flexiworkforce founder and CEO Tracey Eker is another example of an entrepreneur who left conventional work behind in favour of a more agile, results-oriented work life.

The issue is not one which can simply be ignored. With over a third of UK employees expressing a desire for a more agile routine, the need and desire for flexible working, involving freedom, choice and trust does not appear to be going away any time soon.

It is unfair to imply that employers are backward in their attitudes to work. A majority of UK companies offer flexible working for their staff on request. However, these forward-thinking employers must be more transparent and upfront, in order to be honest about the extent

Nevertheless, employers’ attitudes are changing rapidly, as more and more discover the true benefits that trusting relationships with agile employees bring to their business. From greater efficiency to better staff retention, trusting your employees to work like adults will only be beneficial to business!

Getting Hired as Flexible Worker

3 you need to know when hunting for a new role

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This week saw new legislation come into place which allows all workers to request flexible working after a period of 26 weeks of continuous employment. However, there have been serious doubts as to how aware UK employers are about the change. MP Jo Swinson has argued that progress will be slow in countering  the predominant culture of ‘presenteeism’ in the UK workplace which curbs the uptake of flexible working, and limits the prospects of those who are unable to work ‘9 to 5’. For sure, there are still more than a few dinosaur CEOs who shrink from the idea of an agile modern workforce!

We at Flexiworkforce aim to offer a solution to those skilled candidates whose request for flexible working may be turned down by their employer. A specialist job site, you can be sure that every job we advertise offers some form of flexibility to fit around your lifestyle and commitments.

Looking for a new role is exciting but can also feel stressful especially after suffering a knockback or two.  Here are our top tips for getting hired as a flexible worker.

  1.       Be upfront about your availability and needs

If you find a job through Flexiworkforce, you know before the interview that some form of flexibility will be involved in the role. This is a great advantage for people who need or want flexible roles that mainstream jobs sites do not make easily accessible. However, remember make sure that you are upfront about your availability at the interview. It is far easier to make your preferred schedule known sooner rather than later. Employers will appreciate your honest and most will be willing to fit the needs of the right candidate.

  1.       Showcase productivity

It goes without saying that trust is an essential ingredient in flexible working arrangements. When you’re working from home, presenteeism is removed, meaning that your employer can only measure your productivity through results. At the interview, aim to give examples of times when you have worked well in a remote working environment, and give  examples of the results that your your hard work yielded. Instantly, the employer will come to  view you as a driven, self-motivated candidate, more than capable of working unsupervised for periods of time.

  1.      Brush up on  ‘personal branding’

In 21st century recruitment, the job doesn’t go to the best candidate. More often than not the jobs will go to the  candidate with the best online presence. Make sure that your online presence is immaculate, remove unfavourable content from social media, while deleting accounts that you no longer use regularly. Give your LinkedIn profile some love and curate the experience and skills you have acquired over the years.

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How to Make Flexible Working Work for your Business:

Advice for Employers

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Image via Office Now/Creative Commons

We recently covered what employees need to know about the forthcoming changes to flexible working legislation. Therefore, today’s blog post will be aimed at employers who wonder how best to make these changes work for their businesses.

Legislation coming into force in June 2014 will mean that all UK employees will gain the right to request flexible working after 26 weeks’ service, rather than only those with children under the age of 17 (or 18 if the child is disabled) and those with other caring responsibilities.

It is clear that this new legislation will bring certain benefits, such an increasingly diverse UK workforce. However, some may be apprehensive about how such a change could affect their business. Here are a few of your top queries answered.

How Can the New Flexible Working Legislation Help my Business?

There is much evidence to suggest that flexible working may have a positive impact upon businesses.  This is due to a number of reasons, namely:

  • Flexible working may allow companies to hold onto valuable staff,
  • Flexible working allows companies access to a wider talent pool, including individuals who for whatever reason are excluded from conventional 9 to 5 hours. Companies with an interest in increasing diversity gain recognition for their achievements.
  • Flexible working may help to reduce absenteeism, and also may help to combat stress-related absences.
  • Flexibility may increase employee commitment, and there is evidence to suggest that flexibility boosts productivity.
  • Companies may be more able to extend opening hours due to the wider availability of the workforce.
  • Businesses may save money with the aid of remote/ flexible working, which would allow for resources, including office space and working to be used more efficiently.

What Kinds of Flexible Working Can My Employees Request?

There are many different types of flexible working that your employees can request. It is likely that your business already accommodates at least one of these flexible ways of working:

Job sharing: This usually means two people being employed in the same role and job and splitting the hours.

Working from home: This is when the employee does some (or all) of the work from home or anywhere else other than the normal place of work.

Part time: This refers to any arrangement involving working less than full-time hours (usually by working fewer days).

Compressed hours: This means working full-time hours but over fewer days than normal.

Flexitime: The employee chooses when to start and end work (within agreed limits). Usually, the employee will have previously agreed ‘core hours’.

Annualised hours: The employee is required to undertake a certain number of hours over the year but they have some flexibility about when they work.

Staggered hours: The employee has different start, finish and break times from other workers.

Phased retirement: Now that the previous default retirement age has been phased out, older workers have more choice over their employment. This means that they might reduce their hours or work part-time.

What if Flexible Working is Unsuitable For My Business?

There are many forms of flexible working which are suitable for all businesses, regardless of size or turnover. However, if you find that an employee’s request for flexible working is unsuitable for your company, there are many reasons that enable you to deny the request. There include:

There are several reasons why your employer may turn down your request for flexible working. For example:

  • Implementing flexible working request may involve extra costs which would be detrimental to the business
  • Implementing the request would prevent the business to meet customer demand
  • It is not possible for the work to be reorganised among other staff
  • It is not possible for people to be recruited to do the work
  • The requested flexible working arrangements would have an effect on quality and performance
  • There is insufficient work to do during the proposed working times
  • The business is in the process of planning changes to the workforce

How Do I Deal With Requests For Flexible Working?

When you receive a request for flexible working, you should request a meeting within 28 days to discuss your employee’s request.You then must make a decision within 14 days of the meeting and inform the employee of your decision.

If you accept your employee’s request for flexible working you must give the employee a new contract. It is worth noting that your employee has the right to appeal if you don’t agree to the request.

Where Do I Go to Get More Information on Implementing Flexible Working?

If you require more information on the changing legislation go to GOV.UK, or ACAS.

Furthermore, you could read advice on how to implement flexible working for SMEs, and tips for implementing remote working.