Work

The benefits of flexible working

Zest's Belinda Collins
Zest’s Belinda Collins

Flexible working is becoming more and more common and I’ve been spotting it in lots of job ads, which is great news for us job hunters!

Companies are recognising that for many people working Monday to Friday 9-5 isn’t always desirable and sometimes just isn’t possible. For that reason there is a growing list of employers who are offering flexible working hours, home working, term time only employment, job shares, condensed hours and part-time.

This flexibility is being welcomed by parents trying juggle work and childcare, others who might care for an elderly parent, people who have pets and those who are looking for a better work life balance.

Workers and the work place have both changed – and forward thinking and innovative employers are taking this on board and adjusting accordingly. Those who don’t could well be left behind, unable to attract and recruit the best candidates.

Zest The Agency, a marketing and communications agency in Kent, embraces flexible working. It’s part of the culture of the firm. I’ve been speaking with Group Managing Director Belinda Collins to find out why …

Belinda said: “Flexible working benefits both the employer and the employee and the return on flexible working is greater than getting people to stick to rigid hours.

“Around 25% of our workforce work flexible hours. This includes working four days a week, working from home, working hours which fit in around school dropping off and picking up times and shift work. We also have a job share at a senior level.”

part-time working

Belinda herself works flexible hours, working a full-time week over four days, giving her one day off in the middle of the week to spend with her two young children.

She said: “We have attracted employees from London who commute to us, people who are looking for more flexible careers than they can find in the City. Not everyone wants to work Monday to Friday 9-5. We have been able to bring in talent to the business which we would otherwise not have been able to secure. It helps us recruit the best people who have a wealth of experience and talent but want or need flexibility.

“Offering part-time and job shares has helped us get a mix of diverse expertise. It means we’ve got a big team who come from different backgrounds and who have different experience and skills. With some people we might only need them two or three days a week, there might not be a full-time position.

“It’s not only for people who have children. I have one member of staff who currently works one day a week at home so that he or his partner can be there to look after their new puppy. I have someone else who walks dogs in the afternoon and so works from 7am – 1pm.  I have another member of staff who volunteers with a charity two days a week.

“It not only works for the employee, but the employer too. Productivity is boosted when staff are happy and less stressed, there are cost savings and less staff turnover. It’s good for employee health and wellbeing and helps avoid burn out. For our creative members of staff we encourage them to work away from the office, as creativity doesn’t always happen in a dark office on a foggy day.

“With today’s technology it’s easy for us to communicate with each other, even if some staff are working remotely.”

But is flexible working for all employers and what advice would Belinda give?

“Being able to offer flexible working depends on your business and your industry. But it works for us and for our clients. My advice would be to not be too formulaic, each person and each case is different.”

All workers have a legal right to request flexible working after they have been with a firm for more than 26 weeks.

 

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