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The future is flexible working – so isn’t it time your business realised the benefits?

Employees and start-ups are finding the old nine-to-five work model outdated. Here's why your small business should adopt flexible working...

The old working style of “clocking in, clocking out” could soon be a relic of the past, as companies of all sizes discover the benefits of offering flexible working to their employees.

If you're not yet convinced of the advantages of adopting flexible working in your start-up or small business, Anette Beelaerts van Blokland, founder of job site Mothers & Careers, argues the case in this blog…

A happier workforce is a more productive workforce

The digital age has allowed people to connect at anytime and from anywhere. It's easy for companies to offer flexibility, the ability for their employees to do their work at a time and place that fits around their life.

Flexible working comes in many forms; it could be anything from a full time job with flexible working hours, a job with the possibility to work from home, a part time job or a job share.

Since 2014, every employee in the UK has the legal right to request flexible working, provided they have worked for their employer for at least 26 weeks. According to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (DBIS), “family friendly policies and economic growth can go hand in hand. Flexible working really can help employers boost productivity and profits”.

Allowing your employees some form of flexibility in their job could result in a more productive workforce as they can focus on their work, leaving their personal life aside.

Adopting flexible working can also lead to happier, more dedicated employees – they have more responsibility to the company and, therefore, feel duty to perform well when working.

Offering flexibility gives your employees control over their own role, and it shows them that you trust them. In return, you gain your employees’ loyalty and appreciation.

Read more: What is coworking? The costs and benefits

Flexible working = reduced costs for your business

By implementing aspects of flexible working such as reduced office hours, remote working and hot desking, less money is needed for office rental and infrastructure costs.

Offering flexible working can mean that some of your employees work from home, while others share a desk or have compressed working hours.

Encouraging collaboration in the workplace by having shared spaces is also a new way of working that reduces the need for individual deskspace. There are gains to be made from changing the office space from having rows of individual desks to a more social, collaborative environment.

Offering flexible working can help you recruit and retain top talent

Employers who offer flexible roles are at an advantage when recruiting talent. More and more companies are beginning to realise that offering flexible working is part of achieving employee commitment and loyalty.

The millennial generation (those aged 18 to 35) not only want, but expect, flexibility in terms of where and how they work. As you try to attract and retain the best and brightest employees for your small business, it is important that you understand the advantages flexible working can bring. Employee turnover is costly, and voluntary turnover is the highest among millennials.

Many companies have started to offer flexible working to their existing employees, but more companies need to make their flexible roles more visible to job seekers externally as well. People who have had a career break struggle to get back to work, because they can’t find the jobs they really want – meaning employers are missing out on top talent as a result.

Every day I speak to women who are highly educated with impressive career backgrounds, but they are unable to find jobs that offer them the flexibility they need at this stage in their life. At Mothers & Careers, our goal is to make flexible jobs more visible and accessible to job seekers

Flexible working can help you retain and attract young parents

Flexible working is especially coveted by one type of employee – young parents. Juggling family life and a job is a race against the clock.

For many young parents the possibility to work flexible hours, reduced hours, or to work from home a day or two a week can make a huge difference to their family's happiness and their work/life balance. All parents know the challenge of balancing work with looking after their children.

Whether a woman takes a short maternity leave or a longer career break, most mothers will have some time off and when the time comes to go back into the workplace, many new mothers value some flexibility when starting a new job.

I believe that if more job opportunities offered some level of flexibility then we would be able to prevent women leaving the workforce and ensure they return after a career break.

Now read: Why is flexible working still a dirty word for businesses?