Irish companies are slowly but surely moving away from the traditional model of presenteeism, rigid 9-5 hours, and instead allowing their employees to work more flexibly. Our recent Q4 2017 Employment Monitor found that currently over 1/3 of employees avail of flexible working arrangements - such as working from home or flexi-time.
According to Indeed, last year's ranking of top companies to work for in the private sector in Ireland, reflect the fact that more companies now optimise for employee happiness by offering part-time and flexible hours, or remote work.
Currently, in Ireland, there is no law in place which would allow all employees to apply for flexible working arrangements, unlike in the UK. Instead, flexible working hours here are at the discretion of the employer.
As an employer, how can you offer flexible work arrangements?
Allow employees to manage their commitments by starting/finishing work earlier or later, as long as they complete the total agreed number of hours. Instead of working a 9am-5pm, employees have an option to work 8 am-4pm or 10am-6pm.
- Compressed hours
A worker who works compressed hours tends to work 4 longer days, and take 1 day off. To make compressed hours work for a business, employers generally ask for some flexibility from employees. For example, if an important meeting comes up on the employee's day off they may be asked to come in and switch their days.
- Remote work and virtual teams
The ability to work remotely is all about freedom and is on the rise. Some organisations, particularly start-ups, operate a very flexible arrangement with their employees where they can work from anywhere, at any time.
Remote work gives stay-at-home parents an opportunity to co-participate in household and childcare obligations. It also appeals to younger workers who would rather travel with work, rather than sit in an office.
Although from the employer's point of view, it might be more challenging to manage a remote team, it's possible to create a strong company culture in distributed teams. As this is a very flexible arrangement, it's vital to commit the number of hours that are required and to agree on strict deadlines to ensure work is completed on time.
- Job share
Job sharing works for those who wish to cut down their hours and work part-time. It relies on finding another employee willing to become a part-time employee in the organisation. Effective communication between the two parties is essential to ensure workers are on the same page and there is no duplication of tasks.
Job sharing is less common but it's a great solution to the loss of organisational intelligence that occurs when experienced workers must leave the workforce due to personal obligations.
- Results only work environment
In this arrangement, team members are measured by performance, output, or results '�rather than physical presence in an office. This means that employees must be clear about what they are required to achieve, and how this contributes to the organisation's objectives.
- Unlimited vacation
This flexibility strategy originated a few years ago in Silicon Valley, but is now being offered by more and more companies in Europe. It's yet another strategy focusing on results, rather than just putting in the hours. Employees can take as much time off as they choose, as long as they get the job done.
'Take what you need' vacation policy can fit well in companies operating on mutual trust and respect.
What's right for you & your employees?
Flexible work arrangements help 'The Sandwich Generation' - adults who are balancing work with providing care for their children as well as ageing parents. As work becomes more feasible from a laptop, remote work is also a popular and plausible option for millennials.
Work flexibility benefits both employers and the employee by offering greater work-life balance, generating a strong company culture and boosting productivity and engagement.
Employers have developed many family-friendly policies to help their employees alleviate the stress of balancing work and family. Finding out what suits your employees best and gives the best results for your business can be tricky, but worthwhile task.