Last week, as I cycled through the snow back from the school run, I was reflecting on the benefits of remote and flexible working. Because I am working from home today, I have been able to take my children to school – by bicycle, thus squeezing in some exercise too – pause to appreciate the gorgeous transformation of the local brook under a blanket of snow and still make it to my warm comfortable desk to start work at 9am. So far, so lovely – but if we pull back from the personal, what are the wider benefits of remote and flexible working?
For some, from the employee’s point of view these might seem fairly obvious – most people would be happy to spend more time with their families, enjoy the beauty of nature and ditch the daily commute for less frequent early starts and long journeys, but are there other benefits both for employee and employer?
Having a positive work-life balance makes for more effective working – it’s not about the number of hours spent in the office or at the computer but how effectively that time is used. No-one is likely to defend staring blankly at a screen waiting for 5pm to roll around as a sensible use of anyone’s time. Trusting your workforce to be grown up enough to decide how and when to work their hours will get more effective work out of each of those hours – and most likely at busy times this flexibility will also allow them to put in the extra hard graft needed from time to time. Not only will a valued workforce be more engaged, they will also be less likely to leave.
A positive culture around remote and flexible working also enables employees to stick around when personal factors would otherwise cause them to have to give up their jobs. I was recently diagnosed with epilepsy and the first thing that happens – once you get over the physical symptoms of the seizure – is having to surrender your driving license. I live in a small village so if I had been working anywhere where I had needed to drive to work that would have been it for that role. Instead, because of the flexible culture at Peridot Partners I have been able to carry on (almost) as if nothing has changed.
But what about when people do move on? What are the benefits of offering remote and flexible working when recruiting for a new position? For those roles that are suited to it, this approach offers an additional significant benefit. When the search is no longer constrained by the accident of geography there is a much wider pool of talent available. We have recently seen a case in point – when our client broadened their approach to flexible working we were able to offer a stronger selection of candidates as we could approach people across the whole country.
Working remotely and flexibly – dialling in to meetings, video calling, even email and wi-fi access on the go – makes the best use of the technology now available and allows us ultimately to be more productive and to lead richer and more rounded lives.