Why introducing flexible working could boost your business in 2019 – and how to manage it properly

The four-day working week is something many employees would welcome, but companies can be concerned about how it would work in practice.

New research by consultancy firm Kin&Co[i] found that just 48% of businesses think their company would benefit from the move. In contrast they found that 70% of business owners said they would consider trialling Wednesday afternoons for employees, with 80% believing this would boost employee productivity.

Adrian Lewis, Director at Activ Absence says in theory this could be a viable option but he doesn’t believe many companies will take this up. Instead he says introducing flexible working could motivate staff and boost productivity in 2019.

Adrian says, “While the ‘mid-week slump’ is a well-known phenomenon where companies can see a drop in productivity, reducing the working week by giving people Wednesday afternoons off is unlikely to produce better results. Companies can’t afford to shut down mid-week, so introducing flexible working may be a better solution.

“Flexible working lets companies cover the entire working week without having a set period with no staff and can offer many business benefits including increased employee retention and engagement. It can also give companies access to wider talent pools during recruitment as it’s a benefit many people favour.”

A recent study by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) found that that those who have more control over their working lives benefited from feeling happier and less stressed. And research by HSBC[ii] found that flexible and remote working practices are more likely to motivate staff and increase workplace productivity than financial incentives.

However, Adrian Lewis says that flexible working can be challenging and must be managed properly to ensure it’s business as usual at all times.

Adrian says, “Flexible working can mean many different things from flexi-time to working from home, however changing traditional working patterns can be tricky. The key is having the right IT systems in place so the business doesn’t suffer.

“Managers must have visibility of where their staff are at all times during the working day, to ensure everything runs smoothly and all areas of the business are fully staffed. Clients and customers shouldn’t be affected, and workers need to be confident they won’t be covering for colleagues and having to take on extra work.

“Absence management software can give this transparency and clarity. It’s easy to install and enables managers to keep track of staff working flexibly, as well as record absenteeism and holidays. It can help companies manage flexible working in 2019 and ensure both employees and the bottom line benefit,” concludes Adrian.

[i] https://www.hrmagazine.co.uk/article-details/wednesday-half-days-could-boost-productivity

[ii] http://hrnews.co.uk/make-flexible-learning-priority-2018/