Making Flexible Working a Reality
All employees with at least 26 weeks of continuous service can put in a request for flexible working. This could include reducing or altering their hours of work, job sharing or working remotely for a percentage of their contracted hours. These requests have to be presented in writing and the manager has to respond and discuss the request in a reasonable manner within three months.
Each individual case has to be considered on its own merit and there may be times where it really isn’t viable for a request to be granted. Having said this, there can be many advantages to the employer if they do support flexible working and are open to employee requests.
Hours of Business
With changing consumer demands, few businesses can now afford to only operate within standard working hours. If you have employees who want to start work earlier so they free up time in the evening for family commitments, study or simply to avoid the peak time commute, it could be advantageous for customers who don’t want to wait until 9am to place an order or get a response to their query.
If an employee really isn’t a morning person, they might not be particularly productive first thing, so giving them the option of arriving later and working into the evening could optimise their performance. Longer working days could also allow some employees to undertake their weekly hours in four days, so they have time to indulge in another interest that keeps them motivated and fulfilled.
A Skilled Workforce
Childcare, care of elderly parents and a desire to study, volunteer or pursue a passion are all reasons why people might not want or be able to work standard hours. By focusing on your company’s objectives and being open to different working patterns that don’t compromise on working towards these goals, you could attract higher calibre employees, with the skills you need.
As an example, outside the school gates, there are experienced, talented and skilled individuals who are looking for work that fits in with their family commitments. Having their expertise in your workplace from 9.30–2.30 could be equally effective as having another candidate in all day long.
If you are able to offer flexible working opportunities, then it encourages staff retention. They see that you are willing to adapt to suit their needs, so they become willing to adapt to help the company. They will be more committed, because their other needs are being fulfilled. When you take into consideration the time and money involved in recruitment, this is a powerful argument in favour of flexibility.
Achieving Greater Flexibility
Technology is playing a significant role in making it possible for employees and employers to realise flexible working without compromising on customer service, productivity, quality standards or the company vision.
The telephone has long been at the heart of business communications, allowing information to be shared between customers, colleagues, suppliers and prospects. Modern VOIP phone services have taken telephone communications a step further. They include a range of functionality that can transform how and where calls can be made, received and responded to. VOIP phone services can support flexible working, as well as improving the quality of global communications.
VOIP Phone Services
Conference call facilities allow multiple phones to be connected, so that a number of different parties can engage in a phone conversation. Integrates microphones and speaker technology contribute to improved sound quality and reception, even on international calls.
Automatic call forwarding allows a call to be redirected to another extension or a mobile phone if it isn’t picked up in a set number of rings. This can enhance customer service and allows remote workers to be at the end of the line, as if they were in the office. It means that calls can be answered out of hours, or when everyone is out of the office on staff training or at an industry event.
Auto attendant provides a greeting message and options to direct callers to the most appropriate department. Many companies use this service all the time, but it is also possible to switch it on as a complimentary service when a receptionist leaves for the day.
Voicemail is a common feature on the majority of phones, but taking it a step further, voicemail transcript can translate the words into text and email them to the recipient. This can be especially useful if your employees are often out on the road and unable to pick up the phone. An email is far easier than trying to listen back to a message in a busy service station car park, scribbling details on the back of your hand!
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