As flexible working becomes increasingly common, more employees and potential recruits could be expecting your business to offer it.

According to a study by YouGov of 4,295 adults, only 6% of people now work the traditional office hours of 9am to 5pm.

Instead, many people favour more options in the hours they work, with 42% of respondents working flexibly in one way or another.

Given the choice, 57% people in full-time employment would prefer to start earlier than 9am and finish earlier than 5pm, while 48% would work a longer day in return for a shorter working week.

The majority (70%) of those polled would like to work more flexibly in the future, and 69% say it would encourage them to stay in a job for longer.

All employees who have worked with the same employer for at least six months have the legal right to request flexible working.

You can refuse an application if you have a good business reason for doing so - but first, give some thought to how flexible work could fit into your organisation, and the benefits it might bring.

Staff morale, productivity and retention

Like other workplace benefits, flexible working can help boost productivity and encourage employees to stay with your business.

Research by industrial relations advisory body ACAS found that flexible working has a positive impact on personal and team effectiveness, as well as making employees more willing to ‘give back' to the organisation.

There's also evidence to suggest putting trust in your employees to fit their own family commitments around flexible working reduces absenteeism in the workplace.

By offering this workplace benefit you might lower stress levels, although the research claimed there was little evidence of these perks improving employee performance.

Access to skills

With skills shortages proving a recruitment problem for many businesses, perks like flexible working can give your business the edge over your competitors in attracting the most talented applicants.

Peter Cheese, co-chairman of the Government's flexible working taskforce, said offering flexible hours can give employers "access to wider talent pools and create more inclusive work environments".

Putting flexible working options in place while remaining open minded towards it should create a win-win for both your business and its employees.

Increased efficiency

Rather than sticking to 9am to 5pm hours for the sake of convention, it makes sense to fit working patterns around what works best for your business and its employees.

In some flexible working arrangements, this could mean setting employees' hours according to busy and quiet business periods.

The CIPD claims that flexible working can increase efficiency by allowing for a better match between business resources and demand, for example through so-called agile working.

Saving office costs

The ever-increasing reliance on technology has had a big impact on how workers and management collaborate with each other.

It's down to these advancements that employees don't need to be in the office five days a week like almost everyone once was.

In some cases, remote working can offer more tangible financial benefits to a business.

For instance, one small independent publisher doesn't have a bricks and mortar office at all.

Instead, the staff members all work from home, communicating through a cloud-based messenger, meeting in person once every month.

Not only does this enable the publisher to save on the costs involved with renting and running an office, it also allows them to reinvest more money back into the business.

Get in touch to discuss employee benefits.

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