Flexible working isn’t a fantasy

Remember when Dolly Parton said that working 9 till 5 was “barely getting by”, and “all taking and no giving”?

She wasn’t exactly wrong, was she?

How many times have you been sat at the end of an eight-hour shift, been sent a last-minute email and expected to work on a task when you’re 1% on the ‘will-to-live’ meter?

If it isn’t the eye-watering amount we spend on public transport just to show up to an office where we see a walk to the coffee machine as a welcome break, then maybe it’s the fact that people barely see your bag swing behind you the second it reaches five o’clock, you’ve ran out of the door that fast.

Research has found we can be productive for no more than six hours a day.

You can practically see Mike in HR shaking his head right now, can’t you?

It’s a simple correlation. Having more time to spend on things you enjoy means you’ll be more productive in a working week that doesn’t end with you binge-drinking down in Wetherspoons, slagging off your co-worker for telling your boss you spent ten minutes looking at Donald Trump memes.

Flexible working isn’t a fantasy, no matter what larger businesses will try to push to avoid the prospect of happy and productive employees.

There are multiple benefits to flexible working hours.

  • Reduced working hours means reduced stress

Where would you place ‘work’ on your priority scale, if you’re not ranking it due to financial factors? I’ll hazard a bet it lands behind social time, relationships, relaxing and probably eating, too.

The stress of a 9-5 job doesn’t start the second you sit at your desk. It begins with your alarm going off and the Lord of the Rings style adventure you have to take to commute to work; be it sitting in your car in traffic caused by infinite construction work, or a train commute where you’re standing far too close for comfort with other passengers.

If we’re a society that is moving forward in implementing changes to improve mental health, then it should include our working day as well.

  • Less accidents

Whether it’s Daniel in Accounting accidentally forwarding your 10/10 meme to the boss because it’s 9pm and he’s sleeping with his eyes open, or Brian the marketing professional accidentally sending his proposal via email, ending with ‘sent by my iPhone’, overtime means accidents are going to happen.

Any creative sector is going to be full of people spending that ‘extra hour’ in the office to send out their graphics on time, get their ad campaigns up or pull their hair out over MailChimp.

Don’t let your employees be a Daniel or a Brian.

  • It improves staff retention

From mental health days to holidays, giving your staff the ability to take time off will mean that they are satisfied when they return, rather than resenting the working week and finding weekends to be unfulfilling.

Maternity and paternity leave are another classic example of taking time off that is usually viewed as a nuisance by employers, when in actuality, it will increase the likelihood of your staff having some loyalty to your business.

  • Public transport gets a break and the environment does too

The environment, in case you haven’t heard, is a little bit fucked.

We’re all being told to take public transport to reduce the amount of carbon emissions, yet you can’t step a toe on a Northern Rail train (if it’s on time) without feeling like you’re in a mosh pit.

Countries with a shorter working week have a smaller ecological footprint, and any chance to cut emissions should be taken.

  • Increased productivity

You know that moment when you’re so immersed in your work, you’re barely paying attention to what’s going on around you?

Yeah, how often does that happen?

If you’re allowing people to work at their most productive hours, whether they’re an early-morning type or an evening-type, their productivity will skyrocket.

Some weird people like hopping out of bed at five o’clock in the morning and starting their working day by six o’clock in the morning, but if that makes them more productive, then who are we to complain?

  • Decreased likelihood of micromanaging

We’ve all dealt with the ‘hands-on’ type managers, leaning over your shoulder and breathing down your neck.

Micromanaging all starts with a lack of trust, which leads to a team full of people with no motivation, no independence and no self-sufficiency.

Giving flexibility around working hours means that staff can avoid the micromanaging types because they’ve been trusted with managing their own time.

Increased productivity + lack of micromanaging = less likelihood of a manager ending up with a keyboard planted to the side of their face.

 

There are, of course, industries that could never implement flexible working hours. But the majority can.

If you trust your team and have any faith in their abilities, then there is no reason to ignore the positive impact flexible working hours could have on them.

Want higher productivity, staff retention and employee satisfaction? Implement flexible working hours.

What are you waiting for?