As work becomes more feasible from a laptop or tablet and many employees, especially millennials, prefer being given the choice to work remotely, it is becoming increasingly more popular, sensible and beneficial for employees to offer flexible work arrangements. Currently, however, there is no Irish law in place in that allows all employees to apply for flexible working arrangements, unlike in the UK. Instead, here in Ireland, flexible working hours are at the discretion of the employer.
A few years back I wrote an article offering up 5 points to consider regarding introducing flexible work arrangements. Since then, many more people have either opted for, or are considering, flexible working arrangements and the number is only rising. So, it’s time to revisit this hot topic and shed some light on the types of arrangements employers and employees might wish to consider.
What are the Options?
There is a whole host of ways employers can offer flexible work arrangements. The key is to choose the policy, or indeed policies, which best suit your organisation and its needs. Here are a few of the most common arrangements companies may choose to offer:
Flexitime: Flexitime allows workers to work when they want, so long as they complete the total number of hours they have agreed to. In other words, instead of working a regular 9am - 5pm, employees may want to work 8am-4pm or 10am - 6pm to allow them to better manage other commitments. From an employer’s point of view it’s like saying, “I don’t mind when you do the work, as long as it’s done.”
Compressed Hours: Slightly similar to flexitime, however under a compressed hours arrangement, employees are likely to work longer days in order to make up the hours to take one day a week off. Again, as long as the agreed hours are completed, employers are happy.
Job Share: Job sharing is perfect for those people who wish to cut down their hours and become part time workers. Of course, it relies on finding someone else in your organisation who wishes to do the same thing and communication between the two parties is essential to ensure workers are on the same page and tasks are not being done twice.
Contracted Home Hours: This is becoming more and more popular, especially for those people with young families. Working from home allows employees to avoid potentially costly commutes, and with personal laptops being used more and more for work, there’s no reason why contracted home hours can’t work for those who desire it.
The Super Flexible: This arrangement, although perhaps the least common, is definitely worth mentioning. Some organisations, particularly start-ups, operate a very flexible arrangement with their employees wherein they can work from anywhere, at anytime. Again, there must be a commitment to the number of hours completed and strict deadlines should be in place to ensure work is completed on time.
One final point for employers to note is, whatever arrangement, or arrangements you opt for, make sure it’s available to all employees. Do not give preferential treatment to one employee over the other, unless there are extenuating circumstances, as this can create an imbalance in the workforce and leave some employees feeling dejected. Importantly, flexible working hours are not for every organisation, nor are they for every employee, so consider carefully what’s right for you and your company.
The fact of the matter is that everyone works differently. Some people prefer to be in an office environment, bouncing off other employees, others prefer to work late in the evening from the quiet of their own home. Finding out what suits your employees best and gives the best results for your business is a tricky, but worthwhile task.
At the end of the day, when it comes to flexible working arrangements, it all comes down to trust. Employers need to trust their employees to get the work done effectively and to the best of their ability, regardless of the arrangement they have.
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