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With flexible working on the rise, does your office management need a rethink?

One of the most significant workplace trends of the past few years has been the rise of job flexibility and remote working.

Employees have shown stronger demand for provisions such as working from home and adjustable hours, in order to improve their work/life balance and fit their jobs around other aspects of their lives.

With flexible working set to continue growing in prominence in the years to come, what does this mean for those responsible for managing offices and workforces?

'Better than a free breakfast'

The importance of job flexibility to today's workers was highlighted in a recent report from UC EXPO, part of a European IT enterprise event series.

In a survey of 1,000 UK office workers, a substantial majority (82 per cent) of respondents said they would be more likely to take a job that offered flexible benefits.

More than seven out of ten (71 per cent) thought the option of flexible working methods would help businesses attract a wider pool of international talent.

The research also revealed that more than a quarter (27 per cent) of UK employees now regularly work outside the office, with 22 per cent of those surveyed having done so more last year than in 2014.

Nine out of ten people (90 per cent) thought job flexibility was key to maintaining a good work/life balance and two-thirds (67 per cent) said they would rather work remotely than get a free breakfast every day.

Bradley Maule-ffinch, director of strategy for UC EXPO, said: "With a growing workforce of digital natives - not to mention multiple obstacles such as travel strikes in cities such as London - it's not surprising that people favour a flexible approach to their work.

"Employers need to keep up with their staff's technology and working preferences in order to retain them."

Implications for managers

It's clear that flexible working delivers advantages for individuals and it can offer benefits for employers too, such as improvements in employee engagement and lower office expenses.

However, it's important for business directors and office managers to consider the other potential implications of having members of staff spending more time outside the office or working changeable hours.

One concern is security, since employers have a duty of care to ensure the workplace is kept safe at all times, even if some members of staff are moving away from the traditional 9-to-5 and opting for more irregular hours.

Furthermore, all workers need to be kept in the loop with your company's latest safety information and security updates, so managers must ensure that flexibility doesn't come at the expense of proper training and communication.

You can reduce the risk of flexible workers becoming detached from the workforce as a whole by using the latest tech solutions - like online video calling and networking platforms - to keep lines of communication open.

Also, bosses should have clear reporting processes in place to ensure employees are maintaining their productivity.

If it is approached and managed in the right way, flexible working could transform the operations of individual firms and the business community as a whole, delivering big benefits for all involved.

Posted by Julie Tucker

Image courtesy of Thinkstock

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