Four ways to flex

2631536228_5316d75226_oThere are countless ways to implement flexible working. Peter Ames, head of strategy for Office Genie, takes a look at four inspirational flexible workplace policies.

Almost two years ago every worker in the UK was granted the right to request flexible working. Since then, millions have made requests. So it looks like flexible working isn’t going anywhere in 2016. Finding the right method of implementation can be tricky, so below are a few of the best examples.

Be seasonal

One of the joys of living and working in the UK is the erratic seasonality we face year-in-year out. For some, the arguably-archaic nature of the 9-5 working day just isn’t suitable for certain times of the year.

This is one of the reasons you might want to offer alternative working patterns to suit the season. For example, during the summer, bio-med company Sanofi Pasteur MSD allow employees to take a half day on Friday as long as they make that time up in the week. A great example from which to learn; this is a relatively small notion that could be a great step on the path to further flexibility.

Be very seasonal

A few years ago, when one of Microsoft’s regional offices was being revamped, staff were allowed to take part in a “Virtual Summer”, with everyone working from home. While this might only be a suitable policy for similarly extreme circumstances, it shows what can be done if necessary. Microsoft also divulged that staff were that bit more productive when they got to return.

Microsoft in general set an excellent example with their “Anywhere Working” policy: This encourages employees to work from any company office, or indeed anywhere they deem suitable for the tasks they have to complete.

Be extreme

Virgin hit the headlines in 2014 when they decided to offer unlimited leave to employees at their head office. HR innovation or headline-grabbing PR stunt? We couldn’t possibly say.

However you view this, there is a common-sense idea behind it: That is, you allow people to do the things they are required to, and finish when everything is done. It is fairly radical but in theory is a way to cut down on ‘filler’ time.

Be Scandinavian

Our neighbours across the North Sea have taken a similar principle and translated it into a national policy: Sweden implemented a six-hour work week last year, following increased implementation of the idea amongst its growing population of small businesses.

Again, the idea is ‘filler’ time is cut, meaning staff spend more time working more intensely on things that really matter. An added bonus is the work/life balance boost many people receive as a result of having two extra hours of leisure time. The theory is this can be reflected in the quality of work they produce when back in the office.

Of course these are merely examples, and what works best might well be a lot simpler: open yourself up to employee requests and look, on a case-by-case basis, at whether or not they would work better in a more flexible fashion. It’s this simple approach we take at Genie and people really appreciate the flexibility a strong policy can afford them.

Peter Ames is head of strategy for OfficeGenie.co.uk, a desk and office space marketplace in the UK.

Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/officenow/

 

 

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