As Flexible Working Progressively Increases In Popularity Let

August 10th, 2010

The Flexible Working (Procedural Requirements) Regulations 2002 introduced details of the means by which companies and employees can alter their established working practices to achieve various objectives. This is definitely not a one-sided piece of legislation as companies may gather as much benefit in business terms as the employees do in having greater leisure time or making time for their domestic arrangements such as child care. In certain circumstances, mostly involving the need to provide care for children and the disabled, the regulations force the business to ‘seriously consider’ requests from employees for flexible working but generally it is downestablish whether it is suited to their particular business. Studies have revealed that those small businesses which have adopted flexible working have done so predominantly through the offer of part-time working, the implementation of a flexi-time or job sharing system and the opportunity to Work From Home.

Intense analysis of a business’ needs is vital prior to the introduction of flexible working practices. It is important to make sure that all employees are seen to be treated as equally as possible and are given reasonable access to the choices which are made available to them. For example, while flexi-time could be ideal for parents of children at school it has no benefit to those with babies. These parents could opt for job sharing, part-time working or the opportunity to Work From Home to reduce or eliminate childcare costs. In an ideal world there ought to be an option available to fit everyone’s circumstances but this might be very difficult to accomplish. The part-time, job share and flexi-time options will have broad appeal to employees and offer no disruption to the employer as the work and its location will not alter.

However, the chance to Work From Home will not be open to all employees as not all jobs are suitable to be performed remotely from the business’ premises. The manufacturing function is obviously a prime example as automation has reduced unit costs hugely and to revert to manual assembly by homeworkers would be a foolish decision. While this is obviously an extreme example it centres attention on which jobs are suitable to be done at home. To provide an example of the opposite case, a newly-formed, high-tech Internet Business utilising the latest technology could probably function with the vast majority of its employees doing Online Jobs working from home. The more traditional businesses need to consider carefully which jobs can be done with equal effectiveness from home. The obvious jobs would be the non-customer facing kind, chiefly telephone-based involving sales or customer service. Depending on the extent of the communication technology to be used at the worker’s home then almost all departments should have some roles which would be suitable. Although these would undoubtedly be mostly clerical, there could be other roles within the accountancy, personnel or marketing functions which perhaps involve the creation of reports or management information which could be performed equally as well from home.

A British Chamber of Commerce survey pointed out that 38% of small companies offer the option of flexible working to their employees. They do so because it enables them to keep skilled people who would otherwise be forced to stop working due to changes in their domestic circumstances. The company does not turn into an Internet Business as most of its operations continue as they were before. The only change is that some people now have Online Jobs and are at the end of a telephone line instead of at the end of the corridor.

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