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Can everyone be flexible?

Can everyone be flexible?

Flexible working rights ... 'great' some people will say, and I, to a point, agree.  Ask me again in 12 months though and I may give a slightly different answer.

My reasons for this possible change... from June 2014, any employee will be able to apply for flexible working.  This may be great for those who have been looking to change their hours or workplace but what about the employers?  Yes they will still be able to refuse requests on business grounds, but who determines these 'business grounds'?  

Now I'm not saying come June the world will go mad any everyone will be applying, most people will probably still only request a change if their personal circumstances require it, but as all requests will be permanent it does mean employers will need to think more carefully about agreeing to requests from those who simply 'don't like working Mondays'!

ACAS have published a Code of Practice and guidance on their website but what are your thoughts?

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Comments

  • So we're nearly there now Emily (only 10 days)

    Do you still have a queue growing to request flexible working arrangements?

    This blog and infographic dropped in to my inbox today that might be interest as it contains some useful stats

    Fear a Flexible Workplace?

    There is a also an infographic that you might find useful

    Flexible Workplace Research

  • Hi Emily,

    The point you make about having work (office) and home separate is a really valid point. I started working remotely many years ago and really liked the flexibility as it allowed me to spend more time with my kids and I could fit work around my life as opposed to fitting my life around my work. I'm lucky in that I truly enjoy my job and the fact that it's not a 9-5 job anyway lends itself well to working more flexibly.

    I take your point about seeing and interacting with your colleagues, as work should be a social place as well and it's important to build these bonds as let's face it, you spend an awful lot of time with your colleagues.

    Like you said earlier it will be interesting seeing what sort of requests are made and the reaction of organisations to these requests.

  • Hi Mike,

    Yes I believe so, and I think this may become a more popular choice.  As you say we are living in an age where connectivity and remote working is becoming the norm.  Plus the cost of commuting seems to always be on the rise.

    The company I work for has whole teams who work from home and come into the office on a quarterly basis for a team meeting. Their workload and output is monitored through the software they work from which then feeds into the monthly performance appraisals.

    My personal preference is to travel into the office (I'll admit I'm lucky and dont have to travel far!), but I do like the interaction with colleagues - and the fact its not my electric bill!  Plus, my home is my place to relax, work is not coming home with me.   My personal views aside though, I can fully see why people would prefer to work from home and can see the many benefits which can come with it.

  • As part of the flexible working can an individual request to work from home?

    Given we live in an age of connectivity and remote working is becoming the norm as opposed to the exception, do yuo think we'll start to see more people request to work from home as it gives them more flexibility. In many roles 9-5 hours aren't needed so I'd be interesting is seeing how flexible working develops around work/life balance.

    I myself find myself more productive in the early morning or late evening and I also think these sorts of arrangements would help with child care etc 

    Thoughts?

  • Hi all, thanks for your comments - some great feedback. I work for a fairly large company but there are 11 if us in the team I manage and half of them are already part time - which can be tricky to manage around holidays. I guess the first come first serve basis is fair but it would be hard if you didn't have a business reason to refuse someone's request and then in 6 months someone new starts who has more genuine reason to request the change and it has to be refused. As you have all said, June could be interesting!
  • Hi Emily, a great topic to blog about!  Having just attended an ACAS update on the subject (my CPD challenge ;-) ) the general consensus by all attendees was that whilst we aren't expecting everyone to come knocking on the door in June, it will mean that we will have to give each request careful consideration in terms of setting a precedent.  ACAS advice was that you can apply a first come first served approach though, so what might be ok for one, may not be granted for someone else 6 months later.  As long as we apply one of the 8 reasons for refusing an application and can evidence this in a sound way then I would hope that we're on safe ground.  In terms of the business I work in, we already have some teams with a manageable amount of flexi working, but as a small business it wouldn't take too much to negatively alter the balance and not provide the right level of service to our customers.  June could be interesting.

  • I work in a factory where all the manufacturing staff work shifts. We have a variety of shift patterns designed to suit production needs. (13 different shift patterns in total)

    The office staff are mainly on a standard day (08.30 - 17.00) but many work slightly flexibly around their core hours and this is tolerated without comment. Some office staff work part time and they agree their hours with their line manager then this is written into their contract.

    I don't know whether Managers will be bombarded with requests for flexible working in June. I doubt it somehow, but it will be interesting to see what happens. i'll let you know!
  • Hi Emily, well done on meeting your challenge, your topic is something we have had set up in MOD for many years and staff have all sorts of arrangements in place. I am a big supporter as we have coverage for most of the day with early starters like myself and then others on the team who work later so it means the office is manned over 12 hrs a day. However, given the size of this site with over 8,000 employees I guess MOD have to be - not sure the roads would cope if everyone left at 5pm!! The biggest downside i guess is that often Fridays can be like a ghost town with everyone out on flexi. You mention business grounds and one of my team requested a change of working pattern to a 9 day fortnight, but as i already have 2 staff who work part time, i had to decline the request as this would leave me short staffed and we all work flexi already anyway. I think for a small company this could be an admin burden to implement and monitor so I glad i don't have that to worry about in June :)
  • Hi Emily 

    I have to admit i do fear this change .. I have at least four employees who I know will be knocking on my door in June. Fantastic for the employee but perhaps even more work for the ever demanding roles of HR!

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