Hear from employers who have established flexible working practices in their workplace and find out why they recommend them.
Work-life balance is being enhanced for SSE’s employees – and the business case is there too. Working differently allows SSE to optimise workspace, increase business flexibility and improve productivity.
Higher rates of employee engagement are another benefit to add to the list. After all, engagement is a good indicator of how connected employees are to an organisation and how motivated they are to helping it to achieve its goals.
Partner, Global Head of Investment Structuring and Strategy
Sector: Professional Services
“Our average occupancy rates of desks was around 80%, and therefore having flexible working and moving to fewer desks than staff, enabled us to spend less on expensive London real estate.
It has been embraced to varying degrees across the organisation with some people moving desks frequently and actively working from home, and others choosing to sit at the same desk every day. Some teams have decided for the whole team to work from home one day per week, and others work from home sporadically. It is fairly common for all senior people across the firm to work one day from home per week irrespective of what gender they are, and personally I find that it is really helpful as I have so many meetings when I’m in the office, that working from home enables me to have some thinking space to actually do some work, so I’m often hugely productive. Some people don’t love that they don’t have fixed desks, and they find the open plan a bit noisy, but I think everyone appreciates the ability to work from home, and I think everyone would agree that it has increased collaboration and communication and also juniors learning from senior people in the firm.
For flexible working to work successfully you have to have a culture that is willing to embrace it, and trust in your staff, and also for senior people (men especially) to lead by example. Given we have such senior men working from home, it isn’t seen as a stigma that is only attached to women who have children, and it is widely evidenced that people are producing more work content by being able to work from home, so it’s a win-win all round!”
Sector: Professional Services
1. Many people work hard and do longer hours than contracted – we should ensure that they have the same flexibility for their home life
2. Technology is a big enabler of this – so ensure that staff are properly equipped
3. Ensure everyone understands that their private life is a priority – this should be equally applicable for women and men
4. WFH policy that allows this flexibility (linked to what’s realistic for the business area)
5. Understanding that having flexibility isn’t a negative factor in compensation/promotion decisions
6. Generous maternity/paternity policies help
7. Having visible senior (male and female) role models make this easier
I think it’s important to focus on men and women here. When I hear about quotas or positive discrimination I worry that it would potentially undermine the successful women leaders that we have. It’s really hard to encapsulate this – it’s as much an attitude as it is about specific things we do.”
“Set up for success:
1. Don’t try to programme or systemise Dynamic Working-it’s an attitude and culture change, not a policy.
2. Have a clear, consistent message-communicating the different forms of dynamic working is key.
3. Encourage Leadership to set the tone and lead by example-when managers work dynamically themselves, they gain new insights into its benefits and how it works.
4. Appoint and empower champions to sustain a movement- Peer learning is one of the most effective ways to share the message.
5. Develop messaging, communications and training that encourage individuals to self-identify, and establishes a culture of confidence. It takes
time to change workplace culture – and that’s what Dynamic Working will do.”
“I have been an HR Director for nearly ten years now and I am the mother of two boys, aged 16 and 13. I have worked full time but flexibly throughout my career and the sensible approach of all my employers has ensured I can balance all elements of my life. When I had my second child I needed to attend a residential training course while on maternity leave to help me get to the next stage of my career progression.
I could have missed this opportunity but instead I chose to attend and bring my baby and sister with me as I was still feeding him. My sister did the babysitting while I attended the course and left for feeding times.
It isn’t always easy but you can often find a solution. I have found hospitality a great industry for flexibility recently and we apply the same approach when offering flexibility to my team and the business.”
Employer: Chartered Management Institute
1. Find managers at all levels who are role models for working flexibly for family reasons, especially men.
2. Develop campaigns and training to make sure flexible working really works and doesn’t create pitfalls for women. Focus on how it can enhance performance outcomes.
3. Address the stigma around flexible working. Challenge presumptions based on the long hours culture.
Employer: Willmott Dixon
“In order to reduce the excessive working hours of the site team, including travel time, people start at similar times (some 7am, others 7:30am) but the time they leave varies each day. This also provides people with the flexibility they want in order to see their family or go to the gym. There has been no noticeable drop in productivity and the team are much happier and more motivated when they are here.”
Senior Director RMCC Operations
“As leaders we have developed a programme of flexible working initiatives to give our Team Members, many of whom are men, the ability to permanently work from home up to 4 days a week. The team then only come into the office on a Friday when we hold whole team meetings and connect with each other. This approach allows those who might live more remotely, have family commitments, or a long commute to be able to better manage a demanding role alongside their personal life.
Alongside this we have also been able to offer a different programme of work from home options to our team who have shorter commutes, to ensure that everyone has access to the right flexibility for them.
As a senior leadership team we have seen the positive impact that this has had on team engagement and motivation but more importantly the great improvement it has been able to provide for our Team Members in managing the demands of their own lives.”
“I can see a more positive outlook around the work/life balance. It’s a cliché but it’s true: we can work remotely and we can work better.”
Director Marketing & eCommerce
“As a leader, I appreciate the need to facilitate a flexible working environment for my team, allowing them the opportunity to structure their work to best fit their individual circumstances. Many of the team are either young parents, or have relocated to the UK to work with Hilton, so each has their own priorities that they need to balance – whether that’s leaving at 4 to pick up their kids, or working remotely on occasion so they can spend a day extra when visiting their families back home.
We implemented a mix of flexibility on work location and work hours, and tasked the team with the responsibility of making this work for themselves, as well as for each other – so trust and compromise have been key to implementation.
Taking ongoing feedback on-board has allowed me refine and adapt our approach, so that we truly provide an environment that allows a team member to thrive, professionally and personally.”
Head of Group Tax
Employer: Compass Group PLC
Sector: Food Services & Hospitality
“I am a supporter of flexible working in my team, I encourage working the hours which provide them with the right balance. I am committed to this approach as I see that it has led to great engagement from my international team as well as high retention of a highly talented group of professionals. It’s simply a win-win for the business and our people.”
“It is the technology provided by Barclays which makes working from home so easy and productive.”
“At Muddy HQ, 90% of the workforce are working mums (including Hero who has three children). By need we work extremely flexibly. No school play is ever missed!
This presents its challenges – the only day when the whole team must be together is Monday, but we believe flexibility is vital to keep a brilliant team together and motivated, and our staff retention is incredibly high, with only one person leaving since Muddy began.”
Employer: Willmott dixon
“The decision to implement Agile Working was taken by the build team as a collective. This was only possible once discussions were had with our customer and on site neighbours. The site location was away from the immediate vicinity of houses and there were no local planning restrictions regarding weekday working hours.
Due to the location of the project and the congestion getting to and from the motorway network we moved the whole working day from 7am to 4pm as we had no restrictions on site start time. This allowed the team and our supply chain partners to get to site around 6.45am and start working at 7am, and for the team to work around when children needed to be dropped off and collected from school.
All team members who have children were allowed to go to their children’s sports day, and, in the spirit of give and take, this was re-paid with working a late night. When we were required to work late the team split the late nights up and the person working late was allowed to come in at 10am. Any weekend working was rewarded with a day in lieu.
An example of a one-off arrangement was when Leicester City won the Premier League. Two team members, who were fans, left early to join the parade around Leicester in exchange for working the weekend. This project was completed three weeks ahead of schedule and defect free at handover, thus supporting the case for agile, collaborative working.”
“Our colleagues who work dynamically score higher for enthusiasm and job satisfaction, with 87% saying they would recommend Barclays as a good place to work.Through flexible working, UK workers could save £3.8bn in reduced commuting costs. Flexible working has such a broad appeal that over 60% of employers say it’s key to staying competitive. As remote working has fewer distractions than an office environment, colleagues can focus more; 82% of workers say that they are more productive when they are working flexibly.”
Employer: Chartered Management Institute
Two thirds of managers agree that flexible working has supported their career. This is particularly true for female managers (71% compared to 57% among male managers).
Managers also endorse flexible working’s benefits for organisations. Just under half (48%) believe that it makes for a more productive workforce. 64% agree that it creates a more family-friendly culture while just over a third (37%) agreed that flexible working creates a more gender-equal workforce.
Those managers who use flexi-time, working from home on occasion and job sharing were the most likely to give their organisation top marks on the question of whether flexible working practices support gender diversity. These arrangements can be crucial in allowing women to stay in employment after childbirth.
Retail Operations Manager
“The main benefits in my team of flexible working is high morale. Supporting my team with their personal needs helps them focus on business needs and drive performance.”
Employer: British Airways
“I am a Captain on the Boeing 787 and I have been working flexibly since the birth of my son nearly 15 years ago.
My wife and I are both pilots, and luckily British Airways was early to adopt the policy which afforded us both the ability to embrace childcare wholeheartedly through flexible working.
My current relationship with both of my children who are teenagers is simply fabulous, and it was formed whilst caring for them alone when they were babies, whilst my wife was away.
It allowed me to put my own personality into the art of raising children, which was not without its challenges albeit incredibly rewarding. Being afforded the opportunity as a father to have a strong relationship with his children, which was also formed in their very formative years, is evident now in all of our relationships some 15 years on.
Happiness is the key to success and flexible working plays a key role in achieving it.”