Flexible working works for everyone

eco-summerFor working mums juggling everything is clearly a huge issue. A recent survey carried out by the Mental Health Foundation in the UK found that 42% of women were not happy with the balance between their work and home life (their words not mine).

Another survey carried out by My Family Care showed that 60% of parents were not happy with their work life balance. In that survey, it was clear that one thing that would have helped the respondents was some flexibility from their employers. Sadly, 54% of the respondents were afraid to ask for more flexibility. They felt that doing so would have a negative impact on their career prospects.

Fortunately, not all employers are against providing their workers with the chance to work flexibility. In fact, there are firms out there that are realising that providing their employees with the chance to work flexibly means a less stressed and, therefore, more productive workforce.

A great example of this approach is AlldayPA. This, UK based, firm specialises in providing a complete telephone answering service for businesses.

Earlier this year the firm’s chief executive Reuben Singh announced the launch of the scheme, but a lot of work went in before that. This is because rather than simply launch a benefits package that the management team felt was appropriate they took the unusual approach of asking their employees what they wanted included. The management team wanted the AlldayPA staff to choose the benefits scheme that worked well for them as well as one that would benefit the firm.

High on the staff’s list of desired benefits was flexible work hours, so that was included in the deal as well as a generous bonus scheme and cash incentives tied to the quality of call handling. The firm needs a happy, motivated staff, which Mr Singh says ‘is the number one driver of customer satisfaction.’

If you are looking for work choosing a firm that already offers flexible working makes a lot of sense. You know you will not be tied to the 9 to 5 schedule, which rarely fits in with most people’s family obligations.

Of course, there are limitations to how flexible the firm can be. Most companies still require their employees to be in the office during a set of core hours.

They expect the school run and doctor’s appointments to be made outside of those core hours whenever possible. Some firms require all workers to complete a full 8-hour shift every day, but allow their employees to decide what time they start that shift.

Others are even more flexible they may ask you to work a minimum number of hours each day. Usually, if you work more hours than your allocated shift allow you to carry that time forward and take a morning or a day off later in the week or month. The best flexible work contracts allow you to work at home on a regular basis, as well as choose how long you are in the office on most days.

If you are lucky enough to land a job where flexible working is on offer be careful to follow the rules of the scheme. It is important for the workforce to be prepared to flex up and do extra hours when the firm needs them to.

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