By Lee Higgins, Founder
In today's fast-paced world, the traditional 5 days per week, 9-to-5 work schedule can feel outdated and limiting for many. As we strive to build more inclusive and diverse workplaces, it's time to explore the benefits of flexible working for both employees and employers. In this article, I will do my best to delve into the concept of flexible working, discuss the challenges faced by some individuals in a 5-day office week, and suggest ways for employers to create a more inclusive environment through flexible working options.
What is Flexible Working?
Flexible working refers to any alternative arrangement that deviates from the traditional full-time, fixed-location work schedule. This can include:
Flextime (varying start and end times)
Remote work or telecommuting
These arrangements provide employees with greater control over their work-life balance, while also offering numerous benefits for employers, such as increased productivity, lower turnover rates, and improved employee satisfaction.
The Limitations of the Traditional 5-Day Office Week
While the 5-day office week may work for some, it can present significant challenges for others, including those with disabilities (visible and invisible), carers, and individuals with mental health challenges. Here are a few ways in which the traditional workweek can limit inclusivity:
Accessibility: For people with disabilities (visible and invisible), commuting to an office every day can be challenging and exhausting. Flexible working options like remote work can make it easier for these individuals to participate fully in the workforce.
Caring responsibilities: Many people have caregiving responsibilities for children, elderly parents, or other family members. A rigid work schedule can make it difficult for them to balance these duties with their professional commitments.
Mental health: For individuals dealing with mental health challenges, such as anxiety or depression, the pressures of a 5 day week, and 9-to-5 (or longer), office routine can exacerbate their symptoms. Flexible working arrangements can provide much-needed relief and support.
How Employers Can Foster Inclusivity Through Flexible Working
By offering flexible working options, employers can create a more inclusive and supportive environment for all employees. Here are some ways to implement and promote flexible working:
Establish clear policies: Develop comprehensive guidelines outlining the various flexible working options available, eligibility criteria, and the process for requesting such arrangements.
Promote a culture of trust: Encourage open communication and trust between managers and employees, so that workers feel comfortable discussing their needs and preferences.
Provide the necessary tools: Equip employees with the technology and resources they need to work effectively from home or other locations.
Monitor and adapt: Regularly review the effectiveness of your flexible working policies and make adjustments as needed to ensure they continue to meet the evolving needs of your workforce.
The Benefits of Embracing Flexible Working
Employers who adopt flexible working practices can expect to see numerous benefits, including:
Improved employee well-being and satisfaction
Enhanced productivity and innovation
Reduced absenteeism and turnover rates
A more diverse and inclusive workforce
An attractive employer brand, helping to attract top talent from all backgrounds
Embracing flexible working is not only an essential step towards fostering inclusivity in the workplace but also a smart business decision that can lead to long-term success. By recognising the unique needs and challenges faced by different individuals, employers can empower their workforce, drive innovation, and create a thriving, diverse community. So, isn't it time to redefine the way we work and unlock the full potential of our talent?