Tag Archives: Telecommuting

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.

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Happy International Day of Happiness!

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 Today is March 20th, the official day of happiness around the world!

21st century living can be stressful at times, so it is important to take time to be grateful, by reflecting on what truly makes us feel happy and fulfilled. To celebrate, five flexible workers share with us the things that make them happy about their job.

"Time moves in one direction,Memory in another.”

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“The best thing about my job is that every day is different. I can’t stand monotony and the daily grind, so the lack of a solid routine is perfect for me. I set my own hours and that’s great.”

“Since quitting the 9-5 I’ve been so much more appreciative of the time I spend with my family. I have two young children, and I feel like now I can really be there for them as they grow up. Life is short, they say, so I want to spend as much time with my kids as possible while they’re still young enough to want to spend time with me!”

“More than anything, I appreciate the opportunity that my job gives me to travel the world! My boss is fully supportive of me working remotely, and that is a great help. Working remotely opens up so many options. With modern technology there are almost no limits to what you can do.”

“My job makes me happy because it has allowed me to maintain my independence, and generally stay young. People that I speak to claim they never would guess I was 75! I really do believe that working into retirement keeps you young and agile”

“What makes me happy is the fact that I can work when it suits me. I’m a total night owl, and so I can just start working whenever the creative juices start flowing! I don’t have to drag myself out of bed for the morning commute.”

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Have a great day, every day with flexible working!

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What do Generation Y Want?

Flexibility, responsibility and the opportunity to grow: here is the lowdown on what Gen Y wants.

Flexibility- The millennial generation were the first to have grown up with the internet, and so have an organic ability to adapt to different modes of technology. Young workers are realising that with the aid of just a laptop and a smartphone, they are able to work efficiently while connecting with clients all over the world. To the younger generation, being tied to an office is less appealing that the possibility of working from home, or anywhere else!

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Responsibility- We’re all familiar with the damaging stereotypes which present ‘Generation Y’ as a lazy, irresponsible bunch.

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However,  society’s prejudices mean that increasingly, Generation Y are keen to react against stereotypes by displaying their responsibility and willingness to take control. Just look at this list of some of the most successful young entrepreneurs and CEOS.

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To feel that they are making a difference- Generation Y values charity work and the role of non-profit organisations in society. More than the baby-boomers, Generation Y enjoy seeing the direct impact of their charitable donations. This idea also applies to work. Given the chance, millennial workers will be keen to work hard, in order to see for themselves the positive effect of their work on the company they work for.

Opportunity to Grow- Perhaps more than previous generations, Generation Y are keen to boost their employability through personal development. This means that they are often more than willing to expand on their skillset, which will ultimately benefit your business.

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Positive Affirmation- Generation Y are easy to motivate so long as you value and reaffirm the work that they do. This can work to a company’s advantage, as younger workers are less concerned with bonuses and monetary gain than they are with feeling valued and receiving adequate recognition within the workplace. Also, millennial workers are more likely to be loyal if they feel that they are appreciated.

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Life/Work Balance 101

Is Your Job Taking Over Your Life?

24 Ways To Tell You Don't Understand Work-Life Balance

20th Century Fox / Via wifflegif.com

Many of us are now working from home, telecommuting or working remotely. The advantages of these new, flexible modes of working are numerous. However, for some, working from home does pose a risk to wellbeing, in that it can be difficult for those new to flexible hours to effectively separate work from homelife.

In a recent Daily Mail article, psychologist Emma Kenny claimed that in order to achieve a perfect work/life balance people should work a maximum of 2.5 hours a day. Follow these tips to ensure that your job doesn’t take over your life!

1. Only work in a particular designated zone– By separating your office area from the rest of your home, you will prevent your work from invading your private life. Declutter this area regularly in order to prevent an unneccessary build-up of papers.

2. Spend time outdoors- Make sure that working from home doesn’t prevent you from having regular contact with the outside world! Take time to go for a walk every day. Even if it’s just for ten or fifteen minutes, enjoying fresh air will boost your concentration levels and prevent your energy levels from flagging in the afternoons.

3. In the evenings… Switch Off- The ‘Flexible Revolution’ has enabled an increasing amount of workers to enjoy the benefits of a less concrete 9 to 5 routine. However, this means that it can be easy to work too hard. Tackle this issue by aiming to avoid working throughout the night. Of course, this may not always be possible, but aiming to spend evenings socialising instead of working may be key to achieving a strong work/life balance resulting in overall life satisfaction

4. Go mobile- Technology  has provided us with a plethora of apps which claim to offer us the tools to navigate modern life. Take advantage of these by using your smartphone to aid your flexible routine. Apps such as Expensfy, or the Self-Control app (for Macs only) for those who are keen to stick to their routine. Shoeboxed.com have a great list of apps which aim to help improve work/life balance.

5. Get an enjoyable hobby- Cultivate richness and variety in your life by gaining a new pastime which excites you and which you feel passionate about. Preferably, choose something creative, which you can do with others or alone as a way of winding down after a hard day’s work.

Working From Home- The Definitive Guide

How can you avoid distractions when telecommuting or working from home? 

It’s a valid question, as more and more of us are choosing to working flexibly from home or work remotely out of necessity. There are many advantages to working from home, but many report that they have difficulty adapting to the arrangement, and find it easy to succumb to distractions around the home

Guardian Professional Matthew Jenkin recently came up with a list of key things which the remote worker should bear in mind in order to kiss procrastination goodbye and boost creativity and productivity!

0 Procrastination We All Suffer Source

Find a designated workspace

Emma Busk moved with her partner to the countryside so they would have more space to run their public relations company Extra Cover Media from home. With horses and dogs vying for her attention, she understands the need to time manage efficiently. Dedicating an area in the house solely for business has removed many of the most common distractions, such as television, and improved their work-life balance. “When you have your own business and you work at home, it can be very hard to switch off at the end of the day,” Busk explains. “Before we had our own office space, we could be working until late at night and on Saturday mornings.” She adds: “It’s very important to say, ‘That corner of the room is work and that’s where we sit. If you’re not working, you don’t sit in that corner’. You need to delineate your time between work and home life.”

Make sure friends and family know your business schedule

While an impromptu visit from your sibling or well-meaning neighbour can be a welcome distraction sometimes, learning when to invite them in and when to wave them goodbye is vital if you want to remain productive. For Busk, living in a small village means she has her fair share of surprise guests to contend with. It’s hard when you’re working at home on your own, she admits, because sometimes you don’t have that interaction with other colleagues. She says: “If you’re on a deadline or have a lot of work to complete, you have to turn around and tell them to come back another time. I think most people will understand.” Rebekah Harriman runs her own social media consultancy, Rebekah-Harriman.com. With dogs, chickens and children to look after, she admits she has become very good at getting distracted. She says you need to be clear with family members that you won’t answer the phone during working hours. She says: “That’s why a lot of people I know have separate business numbers, so when that rings and I am not working, I won’t answer it. I refuse to give my mum my work number, otherwise she’d just call me on that if I didn’t answer the phone.”

Establish a routine

As a busy entrepreneur, Harriman says managing her day carefully around her work and family commitments is essential to remain productive. “It’s about managing my own time, but also my workload,” she says. “I am also quite strict and don’t do domestic chores between 9am and 3pm when the kids are at school. As soon as you start thinking, oh I’ll just empty the dishwasher or put the washing out, then you’re not working.” Jaye Cowie, the founder of Major Marketing, says sticking to a strict routine is the best way to juggle family and business. She says: “Working from home, you never know when to stop. With an office, you have a time that you leave work. Even if it is 11pm, you are leaving a physical building. Whereas at home, I always feel like I could do slightly more.” With the creation of smartphones with emails on them, you also have to be really careful not to overdo it. Cowie adds: “If you are in your non-work time and you get one of those emails which you know needs an immediate response and puts you in a terrible mood, it affects the rest of the family.”

Limit time for chores

Working from home and seeing housework which still needs to be done piling up can leave small business owners with pangs of domestic guilt. Cowie bemoans: “I have found it really hard to move past the fully loaded dishwasher and not do something about it. Another thing is food. You constantly want to eat because it’s a distraction from what you’re doing, especially if it’s a task you want to avoid.” Keeping track of the time you spend doing household chores or non-work activities means you are less likely to waste precious minutes and hours of the day on just one task, Harriman finds. “Everybody has their own way of working, but I like to work in short intensive bursts,” she says. “So, I have a timer which I set for 20 minutes per task. I also do the same for those which are non-work related chores such as doing the washing up. As soon as my time is up, I stop and go back to work.”

Content commissioned by Guardian Professional on behalf of Direct Line for Business.