Small Business Advice

The benefits of flexible working for small businesses

Jack Stratten

Why flexible working is good for business

As we're all very aware, the way many of us work has changed dramatically during the pandemic. Flexible working had been on the rise for many years before Covid-19 emerged, but the virus has triggered a boom in remote working all around the world. But for small businesses, what are the benefits? And is flexible working something business owners should continue to promote as the pandemic recedes?

Happier employees

Not all employees love working from home. And in reality, only a minority of employees actually want to work at home full-time. But for most employees, some form of flexible working is highly desirable.

Research by the CIPD indicates that among employees who don't have any access to flexible working, around 80% would like it. Your staff probably want some flexibility and offering it will make them happier, less stressed and more engaged.

Better productivity

An enormous amount of research has been conducted to see whether staff who are offered more flexibility are more productive. And the general consensus is that productivity does increase.

One of the key elements of this is so-called discretionary work. Experts suggest that staff who are trusted to work at home and manage their workload more independently actually tend to work longer hours when required more willingly. Effectively, they'll go the extra mile because they enjoy the freedom they have been given.

It's also widely reported that offices and other places of work have a habit of conducting too many meetings and offer too many distractions. Most of us work harder at home. Who'd have guessed that?

Improved hiring

Research by Robert Half recruitment suggests that 40% of UK businesses now make offering flexible working one of the key elements of their job adverts.

Furthermore, 95% of businesses have seen an improvement in retention rates following the implementation of flexible working. In other words, flexible working could improve recruitment as well as your ability to retain your best staff.

Greener business

Interestingly, for the average small business a huge amount of its carbon footprint actually comes from staff travelling in and out of work. So flexible working also helps you to become greener.

Furthermore, by offering flexible working you may be able to reduce your office footprint too – which could save money as well as energy.

Flexible working might not grab headlines in the way that a shoe made of ocean plastic might, but it has the potential to make a far more meaningful impact.

It's all about communication

Of course, flexible working doesn't work for all businesses – and indeed, for all staff. This isn't a one size fits all issue.

The best thing you can do as an employer is talk to your staff. Find out what they want, and what kind of working schedule would suit them best, and try to find a structure that suits everyone.

Flexible working, above anything else, is about employees feeling listened to and trusted.