Flexible Working…We believe in it, do you?

Most people commute between 45 – 60 minutes each way. That is between 7 and 10 hours a week just travelling to work. That time could be spent in front of your computer at home (impressing your manager with your productivity and output) or using the time to keep yourself fit and healthy by exercising.

Research has shown that working from home can play a big part in reducing your overall stress levels by taking your daily commute out of the equation. Let’s cast our thoughts on the UK road and rail network for a moment which is grossly unsuitable, unreliable, unpleasant and expensive. Here are some stats to ponder on:

  • In January 2017, the news reported that UK commuters can expect to pay 14% of their salary on rail fares

  • Rail fares have increased twice as much as wages and inflation over the past decade with the recent increase is the highest in three years

  • We have the most expensive railway in Europe and the service is not improving

  • Petrol prices are the highest they have been for 18 months

I recently had the pleasure of being on the train to London Waterloo due to arrive at 8:24. It arrived late. We spent time at stations on route while rail staff stood on the platform asking us to ‘move along the carriage’ so more people could squeeze on. At least 3 arguments took place in my carriage with lots of additional tutting and elbowing. At that point it dawned on me that we would not move cattle or freight in the same conditions that we carry rail passengers. Pinned up against a window in a cramped train carriage, with someone’s rucksack pressing me into another passenger’s armpit while he held on for his life is not my ideal way to travel to work.

Putting cost and lack of suitable service to one side for a moment, how does the experience affect the mind sets of our biggest asset – our staff? Do they arrive at work motivated and positive? Then as the day creeps towards evening your biggest assets have one eye on the clock because they need to leave the office at a certain time to endure the experience again on their journey home.

So, what is the solution?

We need to shift our mind set away from managing staff by attendance and move to managing staff by output and deliverables. We need to monitor actual results. Cast your mind back, I am sure we have all worked with that individual who always seemed to be at work – first one in and the last to leave but never a high achiever. They were like a ‘company mascot’. Management loved the ‘company mascot’ and they kept their job for that reason but they were grossly ineffective.

What are the pros of having staff working from home?

  • Normally the three highest costs for any business is its staff, its premises and the associated energy bills.....the premises and energy costs are reduced with flexible working

  • As cost cutting measures a number of businesses are adopting a hot desk initiative to save money on expensive office costs when their office is only 60% full

  • Bear in mind that when negotiating starting salaries and annual pay increases, your staff are factoring in their commuting costs. Commuting costs that are increasing quicker than inflation and cost of living. Working from home reduces these commuting costs and is better for the environment as there is less congestion on the roads and in turn less pollution for the environment

  • You'll have happier and more productive staff members if a work from home policy is implemented correctly

What are the pitfalls of having staff working from home?

  • It does not work for every role in your organisation

  • There are certain days of the month or certain points of a project where everyone needs to be together

  • You need to manage your staff maturely and trust them for it to work

  • You need to be strict with the deliverables you expect from them while they are working from home

  • Your employees may pop out mid-afternoon to do the school run or run an errand. However, calculate how much time your staff waste waiting for everyone to arrive for a meeting or the distractions they get by passers by stopping at their desk for a chat. Or that chat over the water cooler than drags on or smoke breaks.

As a recruiter, I couldn’t finish the article without mentioning that by allowing flexible working you are multiplying the amount of people that will consider working for you. Otherwise, you are limiting your Talent Pool to only the individuals within 1 hour commute of your offices. And, as a recruiter in the energy and technology sector, the last point (but no less important) is that we are reducing the carbon footprint.

#flexibleworking #flexiblehours #careers #hr #jobs #commutingtowork #flexitime

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