With today’s technology making the world ever smaller there is just no need to be confined in an office for 5 days a week in order to be productive. This is an old-fashioned way of thinking that can be linked back to factory work.
Coming from a time when factory work was the norm, it was introduced as a response to poor working conditions which saw workers spending 10-16 hours a day in the factory, often for 6 days a week.
In 1817 campaigners were wanting to move to a 9-5 model, asking for “8 hours labour, 8 hours recreation and 8 hours rest”. But it wasn’t until 1926 when Henry Ford introduced the 8-hour working day. The introduction of an 8-hour working day in his factory doubled his profits.
Henry Ford’s change to the working day happened over 100 years ago and society and technology has changed so much. Whilst not applicable to all companies, below are four points on how working from home has benefitted 43 Clicks North as a company and they could potentially do the same for you.
While this seem counter intuitive, this is one of the first things that came from staff working from home.
Due to having less face to face contact, when you need to speak with colleague on a task or project communicating effectively becomes a lot more critical. As the usual social cues of eye contact, and body language aren’t present (unless using skype), what is said becomes much more important.
As a result, you learn to articulate more, explain your problem in more detail and end a conversation with clear actions or outcomes. This enhanced form of communication, that sounds so simple but is not even thought of, then becomes the norm when staff are face-to-face in the office.
The original 9-5 was brought-in to maximise productivity, however many people end up clock watching and wishing the hours away so they can leave. With this mentality you cannot have a highly productive workforce.
To counter this, flexible working came into existence. Working from home shifts the focus instead to work tasks. Getting these completed so you can clock off early, enjoy a longer lunch or spend more time with family.
Our approach lets staff start and finish when they want if the work gets completed to the right standard and in a timely manner. This also gives them the freedom to choose to work harder and longer hours one day in order to then have the afternoon off the following day.
This flexibility and ownership increases productivity, usually to the benefit of our clients.
The flexibility goes both ways. By giving the staff the ability to leave early, start late depending on workload, projects and their own lifestyles allows for a more balanced lifestyle.
Flexibility goes both ways. By giving staff the ability to leave early or start late, they typically benefit from a more balanced lifestyle, as they don’t need to make excuses for leaving early or turning down social occasions. They can simply adapt their working time to suit.
Many of our staff have child care commitments which limits their start and finish time. Without the flexibility many would have to pay child care. Instead, flexibility allows them to work a full-time job, earn a full-time wage and still meet their parental requirements.
Showing this flexibility towards the staff, means they offer it back. We know that businesses are unpredictable at times and deadlines can mean extra time is needed to be dedicated. Our staff are grateful for the flexibility offered, meaning when things go wrong (which is inevitable) they are willing to put in extra hours to fix it. Knowing we offer them the same courtesy.
The most important thing to come out from our flexible working policy is the trust between staff and management.
By letting them complete work in their own time and at home, we are telling them that we trust that it gets done. This empowers them in the workplace, allowing them to take ownership and pride in what they do and as a result the productivity and quality rises.
It makes for a better working relationship and a happy workforce.
Is Flexible working for our business?
Flexible working is not for every business but an office-based company should consider the following:
- Commuting: Where is your office based? If you have a number of employees spending more than a couple hours a day in cars or on public transport, perhaps giving them respite at home would make a dramatic improvement to both their working and personal life.
Commuting increases their working day and becomes very draining. This often leads to
tiredness. By simply offering them the flexibility to work from home for part of their week you
can increase loyalty and commitment to the business, as it shows you care about your staff.
- Equipment: Do the staff have the equipment they need at home to do their job? Most jobs only require a laptop and a telephone, which is standard equipment for most office jobs.
If a staff member is only needed in the office to “show face”, then you really don’t need them to be in the office for their entire working life. Give them the flexibility to work from home if the weather is bad, if they are waiting on a delivery and so on. They will appreciate you for it.
- Workforce Demographic: You should know your workforce. From young graduates through to working parents or business professionals, the types of people you hire will change the sort of flexible working you offer.
A group of graduates will enjoy the social atmosphere and usually have little responsibilities outside of work. Working parents on the other hand have a lot more commitments and flexibility suits them better and could contribute to making their day to day easier.
Each business is as different as each employee who works there. As such there is no one size fits all to flexible working. Instead you should take the time to understand your employees and the needs of your business and come up with a working policy that benefits both.