Can people really be productive when they’re working from home? Or from a coffee shop or co-working space? Surely employees get the most done when they’re in the office right?

These are questions that are often asked by business leaders when they’re considering adopting flexible working arrangements. Many managers get scared that their employees simply won’t work as hard or be as productive in their roles if they’re not in the office. 

But as technology advances and our attitudes to work change more and more people are seeing the benefits of flexible working and the positive impact it can have on the UK economy. 

In this article, we’ll explain what remote working is and how it’s benefiting businesses as well as the UK economy on the whole.  

What is flexible working?

What is flexible working? You might think you already know the answer to that but it is worth clarifying. Flexible working isn’t the same as forced home working, something a lot of us had to experience during the pandemic. 

Flexible working is defined as any way of working that suits an employee’s needs. 

These needs can generally be divided into four segments: 

  • Working patterns: this can be anything from working part-time to working flexitime, compressed hours or self-rostering.
  • Workload: this includes reduced hours, job sharing, zero-hour contracts, phased retirement and commissioned outcomes. 
  • Workplace: this is allowing your employees to choose where they want to work whether that’s in the office, at home, a co-working space or a combination of all three (hybrid working).
  • Life events: career breaks and shared parental leave are the types of things included in this segment.  

Anna Whitehouse, founder of Mother Pukka and Flex Appeal summed up flexible working when she said, “Flexible working has never been about location, it’s always been about inclusion. It’s about including talent. Talent with caring responsibilities, talent living with disabilities. People who are looking to work in a human, or even humane, way that’s ultimately good for business.”

Flexible working is about so much more than working from home three days a week. It’s about giving your employees the autonomy and tools they need to succeed in their roles and working with them to help them fulfil their professional and personal ambitions. 

How could flexible working add £55bn to the UK economy?

According to the economic study by Flexonomics, businesses that refuse to accommodate flexible working are collectively losing £2bn a year as employees are voting with their feet and deciding to work for more accommodating employers.  

The Flexonomics study goes on to show that flexible working currently contributes a whopping £37bn to the UK economy each year and the report forecasts that a 50 percent increase in the current rates of flexible working could result in a net economic gain of £55bn alongside the creation of 51,200 new jobs.  

The report also highlights the link between flexible working and enhanced workplace productivity, higher employee morale and reduced absenteeism amongst staff. 

In a nutshell the increased adoption of flexible working across sectors will lead to happier, more productive staff that are invested in the success of the companies they work for. When you treat your employees like humans and work with them to find working arrangements that are beneficial for both your business and their personal lives you create loyal, hardworking staff that will want to reciprocate the trust you’ve given them. 

All of this translates into harder working staff and more money for your business. This is why flexible working has to be a consideration for any business looking to compete in 2022.

How can HR software help to support a business transitioning to a flexible working set up?

At Phase 3 we help HR and Payroll teams choose the right HR software for their business. If your company is transitioning to a more blended way of working which utilises distributed teams then making sure you have HR software that can meet the challenges presented by flexible working is a must. 

Thankfully there are also plenty of benefits HR and Payroll software can provide remote workers and businesses. We’ve listed them below. 

HR software gives employees easy access to your HR team

When your employees are working remotely it can be difficult and time consuming for them to request holidays or update the personal information your company keeps about them. 

With HR software this becomes much easier. Most HR software now allows employees to access and manage their own data and holiday requests. This saves your HR team time and makes your employees more productive whilst they’re working remotely. 

User access to HR software also brings employees closer to their company and fosters productivity which is why HR software is a great tool for companies championing remote working. 

HR software allows for better employee onboarding

When your teams and employees are working from a variety of locations it can be tricky for HR and Payroll teams to onboard them effectively. Communicating all the essential information a new starter needs to do their job properly is the key to them becoming a productive and happy worker in your organisation. This is extremely difficult when most people aren’t in the office. 

HR software can help with this though. New starter documents and tasks can be uploaded to the new starters account in the software and it can be used to check in and monitor a new starter progress. HR software can bring new starters closer to your company and stop them feeling isolated if they’re starting their new job whilst working from home.  

HR software allows for better communication between distributed teams

In a large organisation it can be difficult to communicate effectively with all the people you need to. This is especially true for HR and Payroll teams who might need to send out company wide communications regarding new legislation, pension information or any other HR and Payroll related issue. 

By using HR software you can streamline these messages and make sure they’re going out to everyone who needs to read them. Automation can also really help in making sure you don’t forget to share important updates when you need to and can help by sending out an email on your behalf saving your HR and Payroll team time and effort. 

Do you want to take advantage of flexible working this year?  

If your business is looking to increase its flexible working capacities in 2022 Phase 3 can help. We’re specialists in all things HR and can help your team understand the challenges, rewards and hurdles you’ll need to overcome to build a thriving flexible working culture in your business. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.