How Valuable is Flexible Working?
Flexible working is essential to attracting and retaining talent in Ireland. We are seeing an increase in candidates that are selecting flexible hours as one of their first preferences when searching for a job. Flexible working allows staff more freedom to balance their work and personal commitments.
Flexible working allows employees to work outside the bounds of the typical 9-to-5. Examples most of us will have heard of include part-time work, flexi-time, job sharing, working from home, and other versatile arrangements. Advances in technology now mean that flexible work is increasingly common in the workplace. A recent study by Aviva revealed that 30% of employees in Ireland avail of flexible working. This is likely only to increase as tools facilitating remote work become more widespread.
While it may have some downsides – the potential for overwork due to lack of a defined “weekend” or evening comes to mind – overall, it’s a positive development: offering employees greater freedom and often leading to higher-quality work, thereby benefiting organisations.
Value to individuals and families
When we think of flexible work, it’s usually as a means of improving work-life balance. It’s unsurprising, then, that studies have shown that flexible workers are better off: they achieve more, were off sick less often, worked longer hours and were happier in their work. They were also less prone to burnout and psychological stress. Greater ownership an employee has on their work and schedule creates significantly higher morale.
Additionally, flexible work is a fantastic (if not necessary) benefit for families. It’s tough to make ends meet. The cost of living is continually increasing making a double income for a family pretty much a necessity. In these cases, both members of couples with children must work; with both parents working, it’s even more necessary that they have considerable flexibility in their work schedule, to allow for the unpredictability kids bring!
Flexible work helps increase gender equality in the workplace, too. A recent report shows that flexible work could actually help close the gender pay gap, and when you think about it, it makes complete sense: since women often hold a greater share of childcare duties, enabling women to work flexibly at higher-paying, higher-status roles makes these responsibilities less of a barrier to success. Access to flexible work also means men are able to take on a more active role in childcare regardless of their employment position.
Value to Organisations
It’s hard to overstate the benefits that flexible work has been shown to have for businesses. It increases worker productivity by improving their engagement and fostering their ability to “communicate, create, and innovate with colleagues.” In one study, 70% of managers noticed greater productivity following a switch to work flexibility. Flexible workers tend to take fewer days off because they can adapt their schedules to their individual needs. And the time they do spend working is more effectively spent because they are able to choose a time when they’ll be most productive (night owls, for instance, do their best work at night; on a standard 9-to-5 work schedule, they might spend the first few hours of their work day just trying to wake up). Flexible work even cuts cost for businesses, further contributing to higher profits. It makes financial sense for organisations to adopt policies that allow (or better yet, encourage!) flexible work.
Flexible working at Mason Alexander
At Mason Alexander we are committed to ensuring that we provide a working environment that is reflective of the great people we employ and reflective of the busy lives that we lead from a professional and personal perspective. Balancing these two can sometimes be a significant challenge and we want to ensure that we continue to provide flexibility to our people. We recently introduced flexible working hours and working from home options for our staff. As well as giving our employees more flexibility with their personal lives, booking appointments etc. outside of working hours, it also helps professionally by giving our staff more flexibility to arrange meetings outside of the normal 9-5 working hours that they are often constrained to.
A Positive Development
It’s a win-win situation when employees and employers can equally benefit from something. Happiness and work-life balance are more attainable with a flexible work setup, productivity increases, and organisational costs go down.
Let us know what you think. Is your employer a champion of flexible working?