The Benefits of Flexibility in the Workplace
As experts in flexible working recruitment, Ten2Two has been working to change attitudes and approaches to part-time and flexible working for over a decade. We work with businesses around the UK to help them understand the benefits of employing a flexible workforce, offering recruitment support and consultancy services to make flexible working a reality.
Here we share our latest feedback from flexible employers around the UK. They have proudly embraced flexibility in the workplace with enviable business results in terms of recruitment strategies, employee satisfaction, engagement and retention, diversity, increased productivity…Download the full report ‘Flexible and Proud’ report here.
Flexibility in the workplace attracts excellent talent from a wider talent pool
I’m really passionate about the environment we have created at Wagada”, says Cheryl Luzet, Wagada’s MD. “Being an employer who can offer flexible working means I get to help other working parents, whilst being a commercially sound, growing and successful business. My team tell me there are tangible benefits to flexible working – they’re less stressed; they feel valued and connected due to our technology and culture; they’re more productive as there’s less commuting time; working at home means they’re often more focused; they don’t miss out on day-to-day stuff with family and therefore don’t resent work; they’re motivated so deliver a better quality of work, which equals value for our clients.
By offering flexible working we get access to a better quality of candidate and better value for money from our recruiting. Moreover, flexibility allows us to accommodate staff needs, which is essential for staff retention. www.thewaterdeliverycompany.com
At LawBite we are proud to support flexible working. In our head office, 43% of our staff regularly work remotely and 100% of our lawyers work from their desired locations at any given time. We have found that working flexibly not only fits our employee’s lifestyle, but has also allowed us to access and champion excellent talent that would have been overlooked elsewhere. Take, for example, women lawyers, the number of female partners at a traditional law firm is around 30%, whereas at LawBite over 70% of our lawyers are women. Promoting flexible working has allowed us to access these excellent professionals and share their expertise with our clients. In an industry where women seem to be penalised for having a family and building work around their personal life, we are proud to open up opportunities for our staff and lawyers that allow them to pursue their personal and professional ambitions.
Sigmar is a small company with a strong female component that makes us look at what we can improve to make the workplace better for women in particular, but it applies to all employees. Some roles can easily offer flexibility and this allows us to do what we think is right and makes better employees, which in turn is better for us as a business.
A quarter of our workforce is part-time and we feel that offering flexibility allows a firm of our size and location to retain and attract good quality talent. We have flexibility at all different levels which includes paid study leave for those undertaking qualifications, people taking sabbaticals, home working and atypical working patterns. We have found that this contributes to employee engagement and their commitment to our firm. www.debenhamsottaway.co.uk
Flexibility in the workplace encourages happy employees and means fulfilled staff
The business is on from 9-6pm but how people choose to interact with that is entirely up to them. Of course there is a need for flexibility within that where cross functional meetings may be needed but it’s a reciprocal relationship which people respect. Alongside that we spend a lot of time working to help each individual person to understand what their motivators and drivers are and how work affects that (in both directions) in order to help them find their unique rhythm. There are other benefits too like unlimited holiday, which serves to eliminate the stress or pressure of choosing when to take holiday in advance or people feeling like they need to continue to push on when they’re running on empty. All we ask for is respect for one another across the team in the way that you would respect your family. We’re an ambitious and hard-working bunch and everyone has worked their share of early mornings and late nights but that never comes with any resistance because the team know that it works the other way too and when things are a little quieter or their relatives are in town for a day they can take some time back. www.rebel-kitchen.com
At Haines Watts, we have had the chance to offer staff flexible working hours and locations, allowing us to reap the benefits as a business. Flexible and remote working allows our staff to better manage their home and family life whilst still meeting the needs of the business. We have seen a rise in productivity levels and a decrease in holiday requests as a result of remote and flexible working as staff no longer require a full day out of the office for personal reasons such as a doctor’s appointment or a dental appointment. For some of the team, remote working saves them up to three hours per day avoiding sitting in traffic jams, allowing for higher productivity and a strong focus on the job at hand. In our opinion, as long as the job is completed to the high standard that our clients are accustomed to, accompanied by the high level of professional service we always deliver as a firm, then we are pro remote and flexible working.
At MHA Monahans, we’re really clear about the value of our people – they are our biggest asset and this is reflected within our strategic business objectives. Flexible working is embedded in our business as a key element of our people strategy. Ensuring we can attract and retain the best candidates in the current challenging recruitment market is key and we pride ourselves on getting the work/life balance right for our workforce. We understand the importance of the balance, and around a third of our employees have a flexible working plan to fit their needs. Our employees are what make our firm great and we give them flexibility with working hours to help them remain happy, engaged with the business and motivated to do a great job for our clients. We are proud that we actively support life’s changes. We are adaptable in enabling people to fit work around their home-life commitments by being supportive and providing a streamlined approach to those returning to work after absence. In a recent survey our people told us that one of the things they love and value about working here is our flexibility.
Flexibility in the workplace offers a cost-effective route to business growth
The Monkey Music franchise offers a truly flexible business opportunity. Engineered by founder and CEO, Angie Coates, the aim from the outset was to create a full-time career opportunity for working parents who, like Angie, wanted to work flexible hours. Having worked both as a touring musician and as Head of Music in a prep school, Angie had experienced first-hand the limitations of non-flexible contracts which would often make life stressful as a working parent juggling priorities. Angie pledged to build a family friendly business which had flexibility at its very heart. Being a Monkey Music franchisee is a full-time role but with it comes genuine flexibility. All franchisees run a proven and successful business model whilst having the freedom to manage their own time-frame. Each franchisee is supported by the Head Office Support Team, whose working hours are also accommodated to be flexible, ensuring a truly holistic approach to Angie’s vision of a full-time, flexible career path for everyone in the Monkey Music family. This flexible approach to the business has helped Monkey Music grow; with a long-standing reputation for supportive management and its creative vision, the business model allows its franchisees to enjoy both their work and their play in equal measure.
We have managed to use technology and open minded thinking to grow and change the way our business operates on a day to day basis. The overriding benefit is that we have access to better talent. We also have a happier team that have been able to meet both home and work goals at the same time. It’s been a win-win for us, so much so, we are now on track to becoming 50% non-traditional working arrangements. www.damhurst.com
Since GSA started around 18 years ago, we have always embraced flexible working by using (typically) part-time mums who work from home. As technology has improved, the ability to provide the tools (e.g. cloud-based CRM and call recording systems) has improved and it enables a much smoother process. We recently recruited a young marketing exec and he has proven to be excellent for us. We allow him great flex in terms of his working hours and he often works from home and does hours to suit him and us. What’s more, we have pop up teams where needed through using partners in Romania and Poland (for large projects) and we have a more formal arrangement with a partner in Spain where they provide us team members working full-time for us on various campaigns. Our model is therefore, very flexible as well as scalable.
EmmPower started with flexibility in mind back in February 2016 and this has definitely helped the business grow. The modern lifestyle with households having multiple occupations, disparate families and the changes with childcare costs, together with government benefits to working parents constantly evolving, lead me to realise that the standard 9 to 5 routine simply doesn’t correlate anymore with a relaxed, supportive and productive working environment. Employing four parents and having a predominately remote or virtual service to our customers around the world lends itself well to us working at alternative times of the day or week. One manager said to me the other day “Emma, I simply wouldn’t be able to work without you being this flexible. Your trust and empowerment mean that I can be there for my children or if my childcare fails, it means I am still able to work, be social and have a sense of fulfilment whilst maintaining an income for my family in a job I enjoy”.
Flexibility in the workplace makes you a stand-out employer of choice
Established in 2014, Prestige Private Finance originated through the Founder’s desire for not only greater autonomy, but also the increasing need for a healthier work-life balance. Research consistently confirms that for many employees work-life balance is as important as basic salary. Furthermore, flexible working often has a bigger impact on job satisfaction than more conventional benefits such as shares, bonus schemes and pensions. In an industry that’s not traditionally recognised as flexible, David Jackson knew he wanted to break the cycle and along with it, the stigma and guilt that is often associated with being a working parent – or an employee that has interests outside of the workplace. With a modern vision and approach to today’s working environment, Prestige is proud to be an innovative start-up with an entrepreneurial culture that encourages sociable, flexible working hours. With the most up-to-date technology that enables colleagues to be genuinely mobile, remote working is more achievable today than ever before. The financial industry is a demanding, pressurised environment. However, flexible working hours and the option of remote working can really make a difference to the happiness and mental health of employees. As an employer that truly understands the importance of work-life balance, Prestige Private Finance attracts an exceptional talent pool, providing an unrivalled service for its clients. In return, year-on-year we are enjoying greater productivity and an ever-increasing bottom line.
Labrums law firm embraces flexible working in a number of ways that we hope make us stand out from the crowd. For example: REMOTE WORKERS Labrums use a digital case management system, which allows secure access to the entirety of any case at any time and place that is ‘connected’. This technology enables us to offer our solicitors the option and capacity to work from home or indeed, anywhere in the world! MOBILE WORKING Having secure digital access to our files enables Labrums to view and work on them using our mobile phones, tablets or laptops, which gives great flexibility. We also have a portal where our clients and other partners can access their documents and relevant correspondence and interact with the Labrums team. FLEXIBLE HOURS Our office is a ‘hub’ our solicitors can work from if they wish, meet clients and interact with others. It is also the nerve centre where the Client Relationship Team (CRT) work. The CRT run the administrative, regulatory and financial aspects of the business to leave the solicitors to do the legal work they do best. CRT can work flexible hours to meet its individual needs. FLEXIBILITY FOR CUSTOMERS Through our portal, a client can: Read documents, highlight text and add comments, download or upload documents, book a meeting or arrange a phone call – all from the convenience of their mobile or desktop device. CUSTOMER PEACE OF MIND Labrums solicitors have been paperless for five years. The data servers used to digitally store legal documents are provided by Amazon Web Services and is safer than email. It’s much more secure than sending documents through the post or by email.
In terms of Sherrards’ approach to flexible working, we have hopefully created a culture of openness around flexibility which means that our staff are comfortable in approaching us about their requirements and thoughts, and we can then enter into discussions with that individual around how we can help them to achieve their aims. One size does not fit all, so we need to be innovative and creative in conjunction with each individual, to flex around their circumstances. There are, of course, the obvious options of part-time or short-time working, additional holiday, and the ability to work from different locations (including home). Some staff have permanent flexible working arrangements, others ask for flexibility for a period of time to allow them through a particular challenge they are facing. Some flexible working arrangements are formal, and are written into the employees’ contracts, whereas others are more informal arrangements, allowing (for example) working parents the freedom to attend sports days or nativity plays without worrying about their commitment being questioned or the clock being watched. Historically, flexible working has been the domain of working mothers but we are keen to move away from that old stereotype and encourage all staff, whatever their personal situation, to consider – and discuss with us – different flexible working arrangements. For us, offering flexibility makes commercial sense. We are a medium sized firm with offices in London and St Albans. We want to attract and retain the best talent but can’t necessarily pay the sky-high salaries being offered by some of the bigger London firms. Our flexible approach means we can stand out and provide an opportunity for people to forge a career without sacrificing their outside commitments.
Flexibility in the workplace helps to engage and retain employees
At MD2MD all of our non director employees work from home on flexible annual hours contracts that provide a regular income despite work and home peaks. The contracts assume fewer hours during the holidays than during the key business months. Staff working hours are not monitored. It is the quality and quantity of outcomes that matter and in addition to continuous conversation, this is formally reviewed bi-annually and independently of pay rates which are influenced by factors other than personal performance. I see flexible working as totally win-win. The business and the member of staff gain from flexibility and I believe the business gains loyalty and commitment from treating its staff as adults and developing them effectively. The end result is, I believe, greater economic efficiency and better quality work for the business and more enjoyable, more rewarding and more life integrated work for the staff. As the founder and director of the business this is clearly a consequence of my background and my beliefs as developed through my career. Despite being 60 I have had the good fortune of never working permanently in an office where everyone is measured by the number of hours their suit jacket is on the chair. This has, at times caused me challenges. Having a leadership team in five different locations across the UK does require conscious management. But it’s not impossible; it just needs a little practical organisation and trust in your team. The former shouldn’t be difficult and with regard to the latter, I have the view that if you don’t trust your team, you shouldn’t be employing them!
The recruitment sector is not traditionally the most flexible; at Franklin Fitch, we love to challenge the norm. Flexibility at work appears in many forms and requires a high-level trust bond between leadership and team members. At Franklin Fitch our focus is our people. We believe employee engagement is largely dependent upon working practices and environments. Employees are provided with a great platform and toolkit to excel in their respective positions. This, coupled with a truly open support network, empowers individual and company success. We encourage our front office staff to ‘build a business within a business. Everyone is accountable for their desk and can choose to work in whichever way suits them. For the last two years, we’ve offered unlimited holidays, a flexible core hours scheme and a personal development plan tailored to each employee’s needs. We actively encourage a growth mindset, we understand development timelines vary and learning methods differ, failure is encouraged assuming open feedback loops are adopted. Other examples of our flexibility include: primary carer flexi-time; apprenticeship and part-time contracts allowing for degree or vocational study; and one individual starting their own consultancy business alongside their job here.
Just over half of MapAction employees work part-time and that helps with employee engagement. We have several members of staff who probably would not have joined or not still be here if we hadn’t been able to offer flexible working patterns. There is a lot of flexibility about how part-time employees fit their hours in around their family and other commitments. The team works very hard and the nature of humanitarian and disaster response work is that it doesn’t fit neatly into office hours. People take time off in lieu if they work out of their normal hours. The holiday allowance is generous at 30 days plus eight bank holidays pro rata, and some of this can be carried over to the following year if need be. We also have a large volunteer membership (around 80 compared to 17 staff) who are very much involved in much of the work of the organisation.
Flexibility in the workplace is possible with technology
In 2018 we implemented an innovative new agile working policy which is empowering our employees to work from home as if they are in the office to improve their personal wellbeing and address the different needs of a diverse workforce. We use a brand new cutting edge HCI infrastructure to enable our people to access our systems from anywhere, anytime and give the same end user experience as if sat at their desk in an office. Significant investment in IT, such as the implementation of Fuze unified communications, has enabled more efficient flexible working, including video conferencing and instant messaging, which has greatly contributed to the agile working policy. Its implementation has had a positive impact on many employees, improving efficiency, better utilising office space, reducing the cost, time and pollution of travelling. With a female to male ratio across the firm of 50%, this is supporting people to enter, remain in, or return to employment where this might otherwise be difficult. Kathryn Faulkner, Senior Manager (works four days a week) said: “I’ve just recently negotiated to work one day-a-week from home – it’s a reflection of the trust the firm places in me.” www.kingstonsmith.co.uk
Potential Squared is a small team, so we rely on outstanding people to support and deliver our management consultancy services. When recruiting we cast our net wide, and we’re happy to make adjustments in order to accommodate exceptional people. Our last three recruits have all joined us on flexible working contracts. For continuity, we make sure that everyone is in the office for a few hours at least twice a week. All staff have a laptop and a large desk-based screen instead of a desktop computer, so we can take work with us and access our documents and systems wherever we’re based. This also suits us as a business because we have clients all over the world, so we’re using technology to be more flexible in our offering as well. We have offered a number of our staff flexible working hours and locations for more than a few years now and as a business have reaped the benefits. It allows our staff to better manage their home and family life whilst meeting the needs of the business.
Royvon is a dog hotel/dog training/dog grooming and pet sitting company so the hours are around the clock with nearly 50 staff. We manage our business by employing the right people that suit our business in terms of aligning with their needs. We have recently invested in a bespoke app that can manage appointments for our specialist trainers and groomers so that it works with their schedule at home.
Flexibility in the workplace shows you trust your people
NGS represents a new generation of international emergency assistance company. Running cases from literally every country in the world, the company solves clients’ problems ranging from fixing a dental appointment to building specialised ebola clinics for the UN, the retrieval of kidnap victims to the extraction of oil rigs from war zones – and everything in-between! In order to achieve this the company runs a state-of-the-art, 24/7 Operations Centre in the City of London. This is manned by a cross section of personnel including ex-army, navy, police, air traffic control, IT technicians and medics. While we do have to run fixed, in place shift patterns we utilise flexible working when personnel are ‘off’ shift as a form of incentive. Clearly the company has to maintain ‘surge’ capacity and this is done by using IT to enable employees to be able to ‘plug-in’ from home. There are huge advantages to this more flexible approach. Employees are empowered and treated like ‘grown ups’. It reduces pressure on home life, particularly for those employees with children and helps with the retention of highly trained staff. Flexible hours also allows us to expand our recruitment ‘range,’ geographically speaking which is extremely useful doing what we do.
Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) consulting is challenging. At Hosking Associates, we travel, persuade, coach and sometimes have to say it as it is. Our support crew has to be flexible too. Everyone at Hosking Associates is part-time. This means they are not always at work but when they are, they are completely engaged. It’s up to the team to work out who’s in, who’s out and when to take holiday. It can take more juggling than it would with full-time staff, but it means we have to talk to each other more to get it right which is a plus. We have to be really honest so off-time means just that, and this is something we continually discuss. It’s important to avoid emails to people on their days off and making sure if clients need help, they know when a response will come back. We need to look at part-time work differently. It’s not part of a job and everyone should feel they can achieve their aspirations and ambitions. Being a Director is multi-faceted and I see no reason why senior roles cannot be part-time too. Finding and then retaining the best people is hugely challenging and in a modern world where we can work from anywhere at any time, we need to adapt. The key is really good communication, so everyone feels they are not being called upon when they are not working, and precise scheduling!
Flexibility in the workplace means you focus on output rather than hours
AccountsIQ provides powerful cloud-based accountancy and consolidation software designed for multi-entity businesses and accountants. Our product is all about flexibility, which is something we have embraced from the bottom to the top of our rapidly growing organisation in the following ways: • When we recruit for staff, location is not a barrier, as long as they can come into the office a couple of times a week when required. • We have a core value of Diversity of Thought, engaging employees on the way they want to work. • Every employee is provided with a laptop and mobile so that they’re able to work from anywhere whether it’s at one of our HQs, within a client’s business, home office or even the occasional coffee shop. • We actively plan and coordinate to implement flexibility in our organisation e.g. weekly online sales meetings. • We are flexible with our dress code. • Measuring performance/productivity through output rather than hours. • Co-working spaces to inspire productivity and communication. A good work-life balance is incredibly important to the founders of AccountsIQ which means staff are given a generous holiday allowance and we trust our staff to schedule their time as required meaning no one will miss that Christmas play again!
Mediaholix is an inbound marketing strategy company. Translated that means we help companies – (mostly B2B tech and SaaS companies) attract relevant leads through their website and social media. We use thought leadership content that is optimised for their ideal clients and their pain points. Why are we flexible? Because our work does not depend on you sitting at your desk between the hours of 9-5 and because we can help companies anywhere. We set deadlines for work and projects to be completed and look for the best professionals to complete that work. In house we do account management, project management, website edits and SEO. Other than that we have a team of freelancers. Focussing on output rather than hours means we work effectively, efficiently and professionally.
At Platypus Digital, we were set up from the start to support flexible working. Our email, docs, calendar and tools are all cloud based (using G-Suite). So our team can access them just as easily from home, work or the local cafe, from their work computer, home computer or smartphone. One of our team is based in Melbourne, another in Amsterdam. Our instant messaging, video calls and project management platform (Asana) means they can work just as well from there. One of our team works four days a week so she can spend a day a week with her young daughter, and our CEO (me!) leaves around 4pm most days so he can see his young family too. Culturally, we believe in getting the job done, not being seen to work long hours. So you can work from home whenever you want, arrive late and leave early (projects and meetings permitting).
We are aware that there is a lot of under-utilised talent in the employment market as there are many experienced professionals who cannot commit to a traditional 9-5 role. We are doing our bit to remove this barrier by offering flexible working solutions in terms of hours (day and night) and location. We hire full time staff based on 35hpw with five weeks holiday per year. However, this is not strictly monitored as we prefer to judge our employees on their output rather than the number of hours they spend at a computer. This system requires a great deal of trust in our employees and by hiring the right staff with the right values the return we get from offering such flexibility is definitely warranted. www.randdconsulting.co.uk
Find out more: Jane O’Gorman Ten2Two