Flexible working is widely used across Scandinavia and the Nordics. And it’s something that should be considered here in the UK.
Exhaustion as a result of being over worked isn’t good for anyone. Once, it might have been dismissed as someone who just couldn’t hack the pace of the job they were in. But growing awareness of mental health conditions and the impact a working environment can have on an individual means this is no longer the case.
In addition, an overworked employee simply isn’t a good one. Their quality of work diminishes, commitment to the job is reduced and they can begin to have a corrosive effect on their colleagues around them.
Ultimately, whichever way you look at it, having a tired staff force simply isn’t acceptable.
Now, the obvious solution might be to simply hire more people. However, this can be expensive, it can be tricky attracting the right talent and – in the short term at least – the extra training of new staff that might fall to the existing workforce could even increase their workload.
Not to mention, what happens if the flow of work eventually does subside or you work in an industry where contract work is the common format? Suddenly you’re left with wages to pay and not enough income to match: a recipe that could be fatal to small businesses.
So how do you prepare to keep employees happy and efficient without jeopardising the success of the company and ultimately their jobs?
Flexible working is becoming an increasingly appealing option. It’s widely used across Scandinavia and the Nordics. And it’s something that should be considered here in the UK.
The benefits of this are numerous. Perhaps most pertinently it can help workers regain their sense of identity. How often do you introduce yourself using you name and occupation? Why not list hobbies, interests and family? Flexible working allows these areas to rise to the fore, without compromising on the necessities of associated with work, like income.
Flexible working relies heavily on employees organising themselves and remaining task-orientated. Of course, there will be some employees that, away from the scrutiny of the office, feel they can get away with not working. But, allowed to organise their own time, to fit around other commitments, many people thrive.
The sense of accountability is often heightened. If you don’t do your respective tasks, it may cause the rest of the team to be delayed or derailed. It doesn’t matter when you do what’s needed, provided it’s delivered on time.
Communication between the team is of paramount importance here. Given that the Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm model has become so ingrained in the national psyche, a single shift away from this would be difficult enough to comprehend. Take that one step further and consider that individuals within the team will be working to their own varying schedules and it sounds like a logistical nightmare. The solution is really quite simple though. As long as everyone is clear about their work pattern then some crossover time for meetings or conference calls shouldn’t be hard to come across. A shared calendar is ideal for simplifying this process.
Whilst the initial implementation of this might have its teething problems, the positives far outweigh the negatives and, if done properly, you end up with a reengaged staff force and a profitable business.