Making jobs more flexible – 5 tips

Many UK workplaces are finding that they need to adopt more flexible working practices to attract and retain employees. But it’s not always easy to see how existing roles can be made more flexible. In this article we explore five ways to redesign a job for better flexibility.

A woman working on laptop at phone at a desk


Flexible jobs are becoming the norm. Not only has the pandemic prove to businesses that remote working is effective, but it has also taught employees that there are many benefits to having a more flexible role.

From this point on, businesses will need to build flexibility into their jobs if they want to attract talented people. But what are candidates looking for and how should you meet their needs?

1. Introduce remote working – permanently

The ability to work from home some or all of the time is highly appealing to today’s workforce.

Technology now makes it possible to meet clients and colleagues virtually and access all the files and software you need from home.

Unless there’s an unavoidable reason why people need to be based at a business site every day – and of course, some non-office based roles require it – you should give everyone the option to work from home at least once a week.

2. Create flexible part-time jobs

Many jobs can be fulfilled on a part-time basis if you think objectively – and often it’s an opportunity to save money. The secret is to be totally clear about the main functions of the role, and consider success based on outcomes rather than presenteeism. You will be hiring someone with certain skills, so how best can they be used? Are there tasks that can be passed to other colleagues if the top candidates want flexible, part-time jobs?

The more flexible you can be, the more applications you can attract. It’s then a case of structuring the job around the desired part-time hours. Don’t fall into the common trap of expecting a part-time employee to deliver the same as a full-time worker.

3. Jobs with flexible hours

Nine-to-five jobs are seriously outdated. Every individual will have personal preferences about start and finish times depending on their commitments and lifestyle. Inclusive employers will let employees have some leeway regarding working hours – whether that means they are working part time, full time or with compressed hours.

In introducing jobs with flexible hours you can agree ‘core hours’ that need to be covered, if necessary, for example, 10am to 3pm. Get some feedback from your staff to help you consider the options.

4. Embrace flexitime

Flexitime gives your team total control over when they work. Imagine they need to meet an important deadline and work long days at the beginning of the week – with flexitime they can reclaim some of their personal time at the end of it – or at a later date.

Flexitime is proven to improve employee wellbeing and reduce absenteeism.

5. How businesses benefit from flexible jobs

When Zurich Insurance looked into its gender pay gap, it found that a key reason why women didn’t apply for senior roles was the lack of flexible working jobs.

The company began advertising all new roles with part-time or flexible working options. Within three months the number of women applying for senior jobs increased by 45%.

Organisations acting now to drive flexibility are likely to see improvements to employee diversity as well as productivity and wellbeing, so there is a great deal to gain.

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