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The pros and cons of flexible working

almost 4 years ago by Holly Hutchins
Remote Working2

With staff retention always crucial; office space in cities increasingly expensive; and the lifestyle preferences of working millennials to consider, flexible working practices including hot-desking and remote working have become commonplace. However, flexible working isn’t something that can be introduced overnight easily. It can be a drastic change for many, so it needs careful planning and communication with the positives reinforced and plenty of options for staff to consider. Some employers embrace it; others feel like they have less control. Some employees love it; others need the structure that office life gives them. So, what are the pros and cons?

Hot-desking

Hot-desking can’t just be about having fewer workstations to cut costs. It needs to be seen as just one element of a flexible, agile ethos. It also involves evaluating your office hardware in terms of seamless communications infrastructure and compliant, adjustable furniture.

Pros:

  • It unshackles employees from their desks and gives them autonomy over their daily environment
  • Employees can become more creative and informed by working alongside colleagues from other departments or teams
  • Health and therefore productivity can be boosted by having more mobile employees
  • It frees up room for breakout areas and important time away from a screen
  • It encourages interdepartmental collaboration and understanding

Cons:

  • People can be creatures of habit, needing the security of their own space
  • Teams can be more effective seated together
  • It requires plenty of meeting spaces for teams to engage
  • Employees need to know how to adapt the desk set-up to suit them physically or risk injury over the long term
  • Morale and therefore productivity can drop if it’s not embraced office-wide

Working from home

Pros:

  • Less stress from commuting or business dress or office politics can result in better productivity
  • Flexible hours to accommodate commitments such as childcare
  • A better work/life balance due to less travel time and distractions
  • Promotes trust and loyalty between employee and company and passes responsibility for time management onto the employee
  • The employee can set up their optimum workspace, which could even be outside or in a coffee shop if that suits them best

Cons:

  • Communication is more difficult – in an office you can see if someone is at their desk and ask a question
  • Interaction and team bonding is slower when you’re not sitting nearby
  • Employees poor at self management can be easily distracted, so time tracking software may be required
  • It requires good tech knowledge and setup at home as the cloud, video conferencing and productivity software may all be needed
  • Corporate culture can be diminished

Overall, having an optional, flexible working policy in place and implemented correctly is an attractive, future-proof stance, giving you access to a wider pool of talent when recruiting. However, it requires investment in planning, communication and hands-on management to get it right.