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Why flexible working could make good business sense

21 Jan 2019
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Flexible workforces present benefits and challenges for businesses, yet many employers have already adapted flexible working arrangements because they make good business sense.

According to business.govt.nz, offering employees flexible work options means they can work in ways that fit with their lifestyle and other commitments.

Flexible work doesn’t necessarily mean changing work shifts or switching to part time work – there are a number of other arrangements that could work.

The first is the option of flexible work hours. This means employers can offer a range of hours to work in, for example between 8am and 8pm. During that time employees would need to complete a set amount of hours’ work (for example 8 hours work) between the specified hours.

The second option is flexible weekly work, which can include arrangements such as swapping a traditional working day during the week with a weekend working day, or compressing the work week – for example four 10-hour days instead of five eight-hour- days.

Flexible yearly work patterns can allow employees to take limited or extended time off to manage other responsibilities, for example taking care of children during school holidays. Employers can also offer an agreed reduction in salary for extra leave over a specified period.

Remote working is becoming a major trend – and also frees up office space and other costs. Employees can work at locations outside the office or workplace.

Reduced or increased hours can be negotiated if an employee can still get their job done in less time.

Business.govt.nz explains: “The [employee] might ask to reduce their hours, and you might agree that they could still get their job done in less time. Because you don’t have to pay them for the hours they don’t work, their reduced hours might have a positive impact on the business.

Remember whatever amendments you make to their hours should be reflected in their employment agreement.

If an employee requests extra hours for extra pay, and you know there’s enough extra work for them to do it safely and don’t think it will negatively impact their performance, you could increase their hours.”

Is a flexible workplace arrangement right for your business? There are a number of benefits and challenges:

Benefits:

  • Flexible working arrrangements can help a business attract and retain skilled staff
  • Increase productivity and engagement
  • raise staff morale and decrease absenteeism
  • improve employee loyalty
  • meet changes in the labour market more effectively.
  • For employees, the opportunity to work flexibly can help them strike a better balance between their paid work and other responsibilities.

It’s important to consider a request for a flexible working arrangement and find out if it can work for both employer and employee.

However, businesses can turn down a flexible working request if:

  • it’s not practical to spread work around current staff
  • you can’t recruit more staff
  • it could have a negative impact on quality or performance
  • it would cause too much additional cost
  • it would impact on your ability to meet customer demand
  • the request conflicts with the employee’s collective agreement.

“You can always give it a go on a trial basis. If it’s not working, be honest, but be open to alternative solutions,” business.govt.nz concludes.