What is flexible working? The pros and cons of this workplace trend in 2021 and beyond.

What is flexible working? The pros and cons of this workplace trend in 2021 and beyond.

In 2010 BC (that’s Before Covid), if you’d asked most people about flexible working, they’d have said it was doing the downward dog while dealing with formulas on Excel. However, now we’re slowly, cautiously entering into a post-Covid era, it looks like the hybrid workplace trend is here to stay with many London businesses opting for a flexible office space. In fact, most full-time employees now work flexibly as millions of businesses have been forced to embrace flexible working in one way or another. But beyond safety and avoiding the spread of Covid-19, why are so many businesses moving over to more flexible and hybrid working models, and what exactly constitutes flexible working?

 

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What is flexible working and hybrid teams?

The definition of flexible working

“Flexible working” is a term that’s been thrown around a lot recently, but what exactly does it mean?

 

Confusingly, flexible working is one of the broadest HR terms. It can mean a host of different things to different businesses. And it only gets even more confusing when companies decide to rebrand it as ‘smart working’ or ‘agile working’.

But at its heart, flexible working is simply an alternative to the traditional nine-five. It’s a different way to work, including working from home, switching up start and finish times, working part-time, job shares, and a long list of other flexible ways to work.

A hybrid team is one that’s made up of both remote team members and employees that work in a central location, aka an office. This blend between flexible and more traditional styles of working allows businesses and their employees to have the best of both worlds.

 

A handy flexible working definition

A handy flexible working definition

The traditional working model has been revolutionised with many businesses implementing a blend of office and remote teams.

 

Flexible working is a non-traditional working arrangement that takes into account an employee’s personal requirements. Some people call it flexitime or flextime. It’s essentially any form of working structure that doesn’t subscribe to traditional office hours or arrangements.

 

Types of flexible working and how they fit into hybrid teams

What are the different types of flexible working?

Working from home is just one of the types of flexible working.

 

As it’s such a broad term, there are many different types of flexible working. Usually, flexible working is a negotiation to find something that suits both businesses and employees. Such arrangements have nuances and intricacies. However, most flexible working arrangements will usually include one or more of the following:

— Working from home

— Part-time working

— Flexi-time

— Job sharing

— Phased retirement

— Compressed hours

These flexible styles of working can be adopted by an entire business or a select few employees to form hybrid teams with a blend of flexibility. For example, your business could have an office space that some employees work from full time, others part-time at different hours, with some employees working from home.

 

What are the benefits of flexible working?

What are the benefits of flexible working?

Downsizing to a more efficient office space that accommodates flexible teams can help your business save money.

 

In a pre-pandemic world, employers were sometimes hesitant to offer flexible working to their team. They worried about the possibility of reduced productivity and whether people would actually do their jobs. Given the opportunity to work from home or change their hours.

But the advantages of flexible working go both ways for employees and employers, especially when integrated within a hybrid working model where there’s a blend of working styles. Giving businesses the chance to stand out from the competition. There are a lot of benefits for employers, such as:

— Employee retention: Giving your staff flexible schedules can help to keep them happy in their job and not looking around for new opportunities. In fact, it’s a job perk that many job-seekers look for.

— Attract top talent: When you have the traditional nine to five in an office, you can limit yourself to local talent. By introducing flexible workplace trends like working from home, you can access talent from anywhere in the world and increase diversity in your workplace. Whilst still having the perks of an in-office team that works alongside remote employees.

— Productivity: Despite the worries of employers, there have been a huge number of surveys particularly on remote working, that show that employees are more productive with flexible schedules than they are in a traditional working environment.

— Employee engagement: By creating a workplace environment that empowers your staff and gives them a better work/life balance, they’re far less likely to take sick days, look for a new job and be far more engaged in their role. A recent study showed that flexible employees work 16.8 more days a year.

— More eco-friendly: By allowing employees to work from home or reduce their hours, you can help to reduce the carbon emissions from their commute and use less energy and water at your office.

— Cost-efficient: If you’ve transferred your team to predominantly flexible working, you may be able to reduce the size of your office. Flexible office spaces provide this option. On average, SMEs saved over £800 every month during the pandemic.

 

What are the disadvantages of flexible working?

What are the disadvantages of flexible working?

Flexible working can come with disadvantages for both employees and employers.

 

While there are many benefits to flexible working, it’s not going to be the right solution for every single business. Every team member is different, and what might work perfectly for one team member won’t work for another.

Many of these disadvantages are why businesses are reluctant to follow workplace trends. And ultimately move over to a more flexible working environment.

— Potential for procrastination: One of the significant concerns for employers, especially with remote working, is the possibility of staff procrastinating. While numerous studies show that employees get more done, the common misconception can be a worry for businesses.

— Unused office space: With flexible working often meaning working from home, businesses will sometimes be stuck with a lot of office space being unused. If your business is stuck in a long lease, you might worry you’re paying for space that isn’t being used. But if you can, reducing the size of your office and going for a more flexible office option can help you save on expenses. Having the right office environment that works for your employees will also allow flexible working to thrive.

— Employee tracking can be tricky: Depending on the degree of flexibility, employers and managers can sometimes struggle to keep track of their employees. If employees can work whenever they want, it becomes difficult for management to be available when needed and keep an eye on progress.

— Communication difficulties: Like employee tracking, with staff working at different times, it can be difficult for everyone to keep in touch efficiently. With everyone on different schedules, you may be left waiting hours for a response to an urgent email.

— Employee isolation: By letting your staff work flexibly, particularly working from home, they can begin to feel isolated. This can have a damaging effect on their mental health and productivity.

— Blurring of work/life balance: With set office hours, there is a clear line between professional and personal life. With flexible working, the line is blurred and can sometimes mean that staff do too much work or too little.

 

How can you make flexible working and hybrid teams work for you?

How can you make this workplace trend effective for your London business?

It’s no secret that there are plenty of remote working tools that businesses can utilise and often for free.

 

The disadvantages and business concerns for putting this style of working in place are not a new thing. As a result of this, there are no simple solutions to the majority of them. While there will always be concerns, there are lots of things you can do to make sure that your team is always smashing its goals, wherever they’re working:

— Use the right tools: There is a long list of tools and software that businesses can use to make communication between remote and office-based teams easy. Applications like Slack, Zoom, and Skype make keeping in touch a doddle. Plus, employee monitoring and productivity apps allow businesses to keep an eye on their staff. Whilst looking out for any drops in performance.

— Having a flexible office space for staff to meet: There are a lot of great flexible office spaces in London that allow your business to downsize to suit the needs of your hybrid team, whilst still having the space and facilities for team meetings and welcoming clients.

— Establish remote work policies: This is one of the easiest ways to counter any potential problems. Speak to your staff and find out what they want from their working environment. Use this and your business goals to set remote work policies that outline communication rules, tools and any other expectations. Creating these policies with staff make sure they work for you and your employees.

 

Looking to make your team more flexible?

Canvas Offices - Office Space to rent London - Dalston

Recent times have shown that with planning and an effective workspace solution, flexible working with a hybrid team structure is a possibility for many businesses.

 

Throughout London, many businesses are implementing a hybrid team structure that allows for more flexible styles of working. A lot of them are opting for flexible office spaces that offer several benefits over traditional office space in the new world of flexible working, such as:

— Flexibility with your lease

— A customisable, creative space that encourages collaboration

— Fixed-price, all-inclusive rent

— A range of facilities like kitchens and showers

— A location that suits your business

If you’re looking to make your business more flexible, a serviced flexible office is a fantastic option. And might be the perfect choice for you and your hybrid team.

 

About us

At Canvas, we have a range of flexible, managed offices across Central and East London. We work with the best interior designers to create fully-furnished luxury office spaces that are modern, creative and inspiring. We like to go the extra mile by providing access to meeting rooms, both within and across our buildings, communal facilities, and breakout areas included in our rental prices. All of our offices can also be tailored to suit your bespoke needs. Get in touch to find out more about our flexible office spaces in Shoreditch, Old Street, Dalston, Mayfair and Clerkenwell.

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