We’re all about flexible working here at Parental Choice and as a smallish team who all have young children we understand how flexible we need to be to cover the needs of the business and all the families involved.
However, starting up a flexible working agreement is not always so smooth so we asked Fiona Severs at flexible work experts Lexington Gray for some advice on starting this process. She offered us the following checklist that she uses with new clients as a starting point for thinking about what flexible working will really mean for you and your employer.
There are a lot of things to consider, this is not a click your fingers situation but if you plan it properly it can be a great solution for all concerned.
For further information or assistance on flexible working please visit www.lexingtongray.co.uk
CHECKLIST FOR INDIVIDUALS MAKING A FLEXIBLE WORK REQUEST
- Understand that flexibility must operate both ways to be effective
- Be very honest with yourself and identify and deal with any obstacles to working flexibly including how flexible working will impact on you in terms of:
- Money/bonus/holiday entitlement;
- Career advancement;
- Care giving.
- Identify and deal with potential resistance from:
- Your manager;
- Your team;
- Your family and/or partner;
- Your own resistance/fears.
- Have difficult conversations regarding pay or career advancement up front – do not cross your fingers and hope for the best.
- Consider any possible negative impact of flexible work on your clients/colleagues/managers/the business and present solutions that mitigate this impact.
- Think about and present a good business case for flexible work in your role – concentrate on savings to the bottom line or increased revenue wherever possible but don’t forget environmental impacts or social impacts (role modelling/improved morale etc.).
- Consider where, when and how you would like to work.
- Consider whether you would like your flexible work arrangement to be formal or informal.
- Does your firm have a flexible work policy? Get a copy and find out if it covers the arrangement that you would like to put in place.
- If others are using the policy find out if it is working well – if not, consider what needs to change.
- Find out if your role been done on a flexible basis before.
- Consider whether there is someone who could act as a role model/mentor for you to support you while you adjust to your new working arrangement.
- Is your line manager familiar with flexible working? If not, is training and/or support available for them? Do you know whether they are generally resistant to or supportive of flexible work arrangements?
- Would technology facilitate you in your new working arrangements and is it available to you? If so, will you require training?
- Discuss how work will be assigned and managed under the new arrangements to ensure even workload according to capacity and ability.
- Understand that business and client needs (whether internal or external) must come first and ensure that client deadlines and expectations are correctly understood and managed.
- Agree clearly defined roles and objectives and a framework of measureable results which focus on output and not hours.
- Agree a trial period and conduct regular reviews – be prepared to make changes to the arrangements if necessary.
- Arrange proper childcare (if necessary) and try to build some flexibility into your arrangements. This is vital if you are a working parent and if you don’t know where to start, ask an expert, like Parental Choice, for help.
- When your request is accepted ensure that you agree timescales as well as practical considerations for starting the new working arrangement, appropriate review periods and performance appraisals.
- Effective communication is essential. Do not shy away from difficult conversations and tackle issues early.
- Understand that you may need to adapt the arrangement over time to reflect changing business needs or the needs of your family.
- Firms ‘not implementing flexi-work’ (independent.co.uk)
- SMEs still ignore flexible working (xlntelecom.co.uk)
- The SME guide to flexible working (xlntelecom.co.uk)
- Flexible Work Is Healthy, Studies Show (huffingtonpost.com)
- REC recommends flexible working policies for SMEs (xlntelecom.co.uk)
- Employees desire flexible working perk (xlntelecom.co.uk)