The competitive advantage of having flexible working practices

How many hours are being lost in your organisation due to un-flexible working practices? That’s the question we have been putting out there since the launch of our #mymillionhours campaign towards the end of last year. We calculated that we have a total of 1 million hours available in our pool of legal talent. With that in mind, it’s easy for us to see why employing flexible working practices have increased productivity and competitive edge for so many organisations.

Outside of our own clients, organisations that are citing flexible working practices as a direct cause of an uptick in productivity include Lloyds Banking Group, where, in a Future of Work Institute report conducted in 2012, 66% of line managers and colleagues said they considered that flexibility improved efficiency and productivity. Cisco was another example from the study detailing significant productivity gains.

One of the main arguments for flexible working practices in business is the wellbeing and happiness of employees. But there are a whole host of reasons why flexible working provides a competitive advantage…

Individual productivity and morale

Starting with the main argument – flexible and remote ways of working allows employees to do what is required of them in their role in a manner that fits with other priorities in their day to day lives, as well as getting proper rest and recuperation time throughout the year. Happier, healthier employees naturally have more energy and enthusiasm for the tasks at hand, as well as reduced absenteeism due to sickness. However, there is another aspect to this – flexible working shouldn’t just be about avoiding burnout or working around obstacles to being in the office, it’s about fostering an entire working culture that treats everyone as individuals. Flexible working practices show trust, understanding and supportive attitudes towards all. Rather than feeling pushed out or a burden on the organisation, with flexible working culture open to all people feel more included and valued within an organisation.

Business overhead and efficiency savings

Our rapidly evolving technological landscape and globalised economy means that businesses have to be more agile and streamlined than ever. Every business of every size should also be considering its energy usage on a daily basis as part of a commitment to protecting the environment on which we all depend. Moving to mobile devices, shared office space etc. can dramatically cut down on wastage.

Optimisation of labour

By renouncing the culture of presenteeism in favour of a flexible model, organisations can better plan labour resources required at any given time, thus ensuring that no resource is underused or overburdened and everyone is working on exactly what needs to be done and is not losing time through travel, unnecessary meetings and the need to show face late into the evening just to impress the boss. When those pressing tasks are out of the way, the hours gained can be used to look to the next challenge, or allow you to spend more time on creative ideas and ways to grow the business – the bigger picture.

Bigger talent pool

By employing freelance, part time and contract staff your talent pool becomes broader. Re-activated talent makes up a huge portion of our legal workforce – many who had found it difficult to get back into work due to a culture of presenteeism have been able to take their career to the next level, and their clients have benefited immensely as a result! Latent talent is a huge cost to our economy, it’s time to tap into it and reap the rewards.