Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, flexible working has become more important than ever. Employees being able to work from home as easily as they can from the office has proved to be essential, and many employees are hoping to either continue working from home or transition into hybrid working. In fact, Direct Line research confirmed that more than 13 million people in the UK were planning to ask for permanent flexible working.
With a return to the office likely, we're all wondering what the future of flexible working might be. Read on to find out more.
What is flexible working?
The simplest definition of flexible working is allowing employees to work from wherever (and whenever) they are most comfortable. This might be working from the office, working from home, or a combination of the two. It might even involve working in a breakout space in the office, or in a space outside these areas altogether. For example, a group of employees may find they work best holding a meeting in a coffee shop.
It’s not just about where employees work, though. Flexible working can also refer to flexible working hours – for example, choosing an earlier or later start. Companies vary hugely in terms of how flexible they are, but it’s clear the pandemic has had an influence on what’s possible.
How COVID-19 changed things
Flexible working used to be something that was only permitted for a small part of the workforce. Usually, only managers or those who were seen to have “proved” themselves were permitted to work flexibly.
However, with COVID-19, it became vital for employees to be able to work from home for a considerable length of time. Over the last 18 months, it has become clear that nearly everyone is capable of working from home if given the right tools – most of us (58%) actually feel more productive working from home, according to reports.
Can you provide the right support?
Whether flexible working becomes a long-term solution is mainly down to what companies can offer. If it's possible for a company to function just as well with some employees working from home, either part or full time, then there is no reason this should not be embraced. A hybrid approach, with both office time and time at home, looks set to be quite popular – huge companies like JP Morgan in the US are planning for some staff to work two days a week at home, depending on the employees’ line of work.
It’s not just the type of work companies need to consider. They will also need to invest in the right equipment for their staff. It is vital that employees have the correct technology, as well as ergonomic furniture, even if they are only working outside of the office part of the time.
Companies will need to think about their finances before making a decision on the future of flexible working. A larger number of employees working from home would mean a larger investment in ensuring they have the right setup initially but could lead to a reduction in overheads in office space.
Flexible working could be the way forward, depending on the nature of the company. Every organisation is different, but offering employees the option can be a great thing for the reputation of your company and employee satisfaction overall.
One of the best ways to keep your workforce embracing and enjoying flexible working is by giving them the correct equipment to be able to work wherever they need to. Getting the best furniture from FlexiSpot is a fantastic way to ensure all your workers are kitted out with the items they need, wherever they are.