5 May 2016

Guide to flexible working

To mark National Flexible Working Day (6th May) we’ve put together a quick guide to implementing flexible working into your business.

Flexible working increases employee motivation, engagement, and productivity and is a valuable attraction asset for new talent. And, thanks to technology it’s easier than ever to work from anywhere.


Le’s start with a quick look at the pros and cons….


What is flexible working?

Put simply, flexible working is a way of working to suit your employees’ needs. That could be working from home, or offering flexibility on what hours are worked, when.


From 30th June 2014, every employee in the UK gained the right to request flexible working after 26 weeks employment with a company.


There has also been a rise in companies – particularly tech and start-ups – that offer a ‘location independent’ lifestyle and have ‘distributed teams’ throughout the globe.

Pros of flexible working:


  • Employees are proven to be more engaged and productive
  • Reduced operating costs
  • Attractive culture to new candidates
  • Employees save on commuting time and costs
  • Shows your organisation is progressive
  • Opens up access to a global talent pool
  • Less distractions for employees
  • Ability to extend company opening hours


Cons of flexible working:

  • Lack of ambience in the office if everyone works remotely
  • Potential for discrimination claims if flexible working is only agreed for parents
  • The need to invest in alternative or upgraded technology
  • It is not right for everyone, and some employees may struggle with discipline or motivation
  • Communication and team working may be more difficult

5 steps to implementing flexible working:

Step 1). Choose what type of flexible working you’re offering


There is more than one type of remote working, and the first step is choosing the type that is most suitable for your business. Below are the main ones, although you could also consider part time working, job shares and career breaks.


  • Flexitime: This allows employees to choose their start and end time for the day (usually within set limits)
  • Remote working: The ability to work from the comfort of your own home, the local Starbucks, or anywhere you fancy!
  • Compressed hours: You work the same hours you would do in a normal week, but spread over fewer days
  • Distributed teams: For some companies, flexible working means the ability to work from anywhere in the world! Many tech companies now have no offices at all, instead relying on technology to collaborate and stay connected


Step 2). Assess the tech

Most flexible working arrangements mean that access to reliable technology is crucial. Laptops, mobile phones, tablets, video conferencing, remote access to servers, file transfers, mobile wifi devices…the list goes on. Speak to your IT services team and research tech suppliers to see what works best for your requirements.


Step 3). Have a clear policy

The last thing you want is to be seen to favor flexible working for some and not for others. Ensure you have a clear policy in place for how to deal with requests and then set boundaries so that everyone knows how to work if their request is approved.


Step 4). Trust your employees

Flexible and remote working requires complete trust from the employer that their employees will work hard and do their work. It’s no longer about time spent at a desk; it’s about output and results.


Step 5). Communication is key

With employees working different times in different locations it can be difficult to stay in touch. Set regular times to have video or conference calls and explore project collaboration platforms and enterprise social networks as communication tools.


Companies doing it right

These companies offer various flexible working practices and we take a little bit of inspiration from each!



Their company ‘Time Out’ policy has been praised (and won awards), alongside their day-to-day policy of agile working.

Read more.



These guys are new on our radar and were recently profiled in an article on the BBC. This company shows that flexible working can be for any sized business but should be a part of your culture.

Read more.



We had the pleasure of meeting Liv.it at the World Employer Branding Day in Prague. They offer true distributed working opportunities – provided you’re happy to spend a year in Bali first to get to know the business!

Read more.



One of the world’s most famous distributed companies, Buffer has employees all over the world who work remotely. This means a total, unparalleled access to the world’s best talent.


They say: “You will work in the place that makes you happy, that inspires you daily, and helps you to become the person that you wish to be. You will work daily with team members scattered around the world and across time zones to build a better culture and product.”

Read more.

Useful links:

  • How to run a remote team, from Zapier
  • The legal side of flexible working, from ACAS
  • CIPD Flexible working factsheet

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