With pressure mounting to consider a new way of managing staff time, the pressing question as to how to make flexible work really work for a business comes inevitably to the fore.
If you need to staff an office but for continuity reasons or you need to operate within similar hours in the medium term, it may be an option to consider allowing staff to work flexibly between 8am and 6pm. The parents among your workforce (who have no doubt been awake since 4am) will be delighted to finish at 4pm and you will benefit from getting them at their freshest point of the day. Equally, flexible working even within limited parameters could afford you goodwill from the night owls among your workforce who will still be going strong at 6pm but who would be of relatively little use at 9am.
Some companies explore the option of ‘time banking’ with their staff to allow the business to cope with peaks and troughs in workload. For example, a staff member may be on an indicative contract of 35 hours per week, however during peak periods they may wish to work 45 hours in order to ‘bank’ the additional 10 for a week when demand is lower and they may have a school sports day or a Christmas show and want to leave earlier than usual.
If the hours during which staff are available are crucial to your business but their physical presence is not, then another way to boost productivity and garner goodwill could be to introduce a scheme for working remotely. This takes away the tea round, office gossip distractions of the physical workplace and enables employees to improve the balance between working time and family arrangements.
Employers might legitimately have concerns as to how this would work in practice, however some may stop and consider how they actually measure productivity in their team. If your team are currently assessed by the achievement of particular outcomes, then a trial of flexible working could be assessed by those same outcomes.
If the availability of staff needs to be tested, then communication technology and absence management software can be deployed to keep your team present and focused. The days of a 9 to 5 world seem numbered and in order to keep pace and to profit from productivity gains, the workplace must follow suit.