Flexible workplaces; doing what’s right.
There’s something to be said for the old “work hard, play hard” motto; science now suggests flexible work environments are critical for happier, more productive workers, and a more successful business overall.
What is a flexible work environment?
A flexible work environment allows employees a level of autonomy to create their own schedules and find a work-life balance that works for them. Rather than a traditional, 40 hour nine-to-five work week stuck in the office, a flexible workplace allows employees to vary the times they begin and end their workday, where and how they work. There can still be structure to a flexible workplace; employees may have to work a certain number of hours or come up with an alternative agreement with their employer regarding office hours versus remote time. It may be that a worker is allowed to condense their work week into longer hours but a shorter amount of days, or to work part time, or job share.
What are the benefits?
If you make your own hours and have flexibility about where and how you work, you can ensure those hours adapt to your family and social life demands. For instance, we have parents at Movest who make their hours fit around their children’s daycare schedules: they work from home from laptops after school dropoff, take a break in the late afternoon to pick up their kids, and then resume work later in the evening.
Ultimately, a flexible work environment can go a long way towards maintaining a healthy work-life balance and protecting important relationships.
On the recruitment side, demonstrating a willingness to consider a flexible working arrangement allows a business to tap into a bigger talent pool who otherwise would not be looking for work. Employees who have the best work/life balance are more likely to remain with an organisation, show more loyalty and put in more effort.
For a business:
It is common for people in flexible roles to manage their time better and work smarter than their fixed-hour counterparts. They often complete a similar amount of work in a shorter timeframe.
Incorporating flexibility and being ready to adopt changes to what is perceived as a ‘normal business day’ means a business may be able to reach different target markets and respond better to changing customer needs. They can also offer customers the benefit of top-quality talent who stick around to help them since staff turnover is lower. Customers also either have or want employment flexibility too. By introducing flexibility, a business is viewed as a responsible and innovative workplace.
Flexible working arrangements; the rules…
All permanent employees have the right to apply for flexible work in New Zealand. But there is no prescribed outcome of an application. This is stipulated in legislation (Flexible provisions of the Employment Relations Amendment Act 2014), which now provides all permanent workers with the right to a flexible work application process to follow.
Employers should apply good faith and genuinely think about how you might make the arrangement work for both parties. The key consideration in reviewing an application for flexible work is the impact the proposed arrangement will have on your business.
Some other key considerations when permitting flexibility are the technology requirements, health and safety considerations and the potential impact on customers.
So what now?
Ultimately, providing flexible schedules for employees won’t work for every business or every department. But it is for the good of all businesses to act in good faith in considering how flexibility can be applied, or to even brainstorm alternative ways to combat some of the negative consequences of a traditional work schedule where common alternatives just won’t work.
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