Features writer Jill says flexible working is a win-win for employers AND employees

The working way four-ward?

What a difference half an hour makes …

Two years ago, I asked my boss if I could change my working hours from 9-5 to 9:30-5:30.

It was only half an hour, but those extra 30 minutes have made such a difference to my work/life balance.

Getting a bus after the rush hour has halved my commute time because am not stuck in traffic for most of it. It’s also given me a little extra time in the morning so am not rushing around like a madwoman before setting off (well, most days).

I was lucky – my boss recognised I put the hours in and didn’t need to be at my desk on the dot of 9am every morning. They also realised the needs of my colleagues with children who wanted to work 8-4 around the school schedule.

More traditional companies may have stuck rigidly to the set office hours – but being flexible about working times benefits employers as well as employees.

It means your office is staffed and answering calls and queries from 8-6 instead of 9-5. That’s two hours when your customers and clients can reach you – and perhaps not your competitors.

Plus technology and living in the digital age means none of need to be sat in an office at a stack monitor PC like it’s the mid-90s.

It was interesting chatting to South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) for their active travel feature in this issue and find out campaigns like Car Free Friday have been influenced by a four-day working week and flexible working trends.

So it was great to read this issue’s If You Ask Me contributors’ views all of the organisations are putting these flexible working trends into practice.

Chris Hill, founder of Element Society, operates a flexible working hours’ policy that allows team members to work their weekly hours on a schedule that suits their life, as long as they are attending essential meetings and events.

Sounds sensible – especially as he points out: “We’re a youth-led charity that empowers young people to make a difference in their lives and communities – and that tends not to fit into a standard 9 to 5 schedule!”

Interestingly though, larger organisations are embracing flexible working, too, though.

Berneslai Homes, the housing company responsible for managing 18,500 homes for Barnsley Council, offers a range of varied contracts, including flexi-time, compressed hours, term-time, job share and part-time working.

And, as Head of HR Amanda Bennett explains, this is across the company with staff taking advantage of the benefits from administration, to senior managers and construction operatives.

Meanwhile Miriam Berry co-founded Verus Recruitment Partners Ltd earlier this year. Both directors work a four-day week but to different schedules so there is always someone available and says flexible working is all about trust and maturity – ‘if you show your employees you trust them to manage their time and deliver, they will respond accordingly’.

Something our editor Richard Fidler picked up on in his The Diary article on the changing culture of office life back in our August edition: “Flexible working hours are becoming the norm with an understanding that employees won’t do ridiculous things like beginning their working day at 3am so they can be in the beer garden by midday.”

He’s right – bending the old school workplace rules to be more flexible is a no-brainer for employees and employers in the 21st century.

I couldn’t agree more – unLTD should be walking the walk as well as talking the talk … so this editorial employee might add a four-day working week into the suggestion box right now!

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