How can I offer flexible working without losing productivity?
29 November 2011 -
“My employees all have diverse lifestyles and demands on their time, and are lobbying for a more open approach to working hours. However, I am concerned that the business could slip without a sense of regularity.”
Dr Spinder Dhaliwal says:
While the economy has teetered on the brink of recession, and where faith in institutions and role models has been significantly diminished, the pressure on small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) has never been so great.
Thus the problem of work flexibility is complex. SMEs have tightened their belts and there is little room for manoeuvre. However, your workforce is an integral part of business success and so good practice cannot be compromised.
The government has encouraged flexible working for all, and it appears that there would be a sufficient amount of demand from your employees, but the burden inevitably falls on you. If your company produces goods and services, then you cannot have your resources under-utilised. Customers, too, expect standard opening hours for businesses.
The best way forward is to build good relationships with your workers. This will reduce absenteeism and is likely to increase productivity. Working from home is becoming more widespread. New technologies allow employers and employees to stay well connected.
There is currently much talk about work-life balance but I have not met anyone who has got it right. Increasingly, people are either working all hours or they cannot find work and this leads to all sorts of other serious issues. Whatever the forecast for the future of the economy, SMEs remain the engine of growth and a strong working environment is necessary.
Dr Dhaliwal is reader in Entrepreneurship at the University of Westminster
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