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How to Implement Flexible Working in Your Business

By: Dave Howell - Updated: 10 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
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The new flexible working regulations are now a reality for all businesses. However, many businesses don’t plan the implementation of these changes to their enterprises with enough care. Changing the structure of your workforce should be approached carefully. If you plan the changes that need to be made in detail, you can comply with the flexible working regulations, and still operate an efficient and profitable business.

Planning for Flexible Working

Once you have agreed that an employee can move to more flexible working, you need to plan the transition in enough detail to ensure this change doesn’t adversely affect your business and any other employees. Consider the following points when you are implementing flexible working for the first time:
  • Have you considered the overall cost of the new flexible working arrangements?
  • The other employees in your business could be affected. Have you consulted them?
  • The new flexible hours that your employee(s) will be working need to be tracked for your payroll. Have you put these systems in place?
  • If your employee(s) requesting flexible working will be working form home, you will need to organise a risk assessment to comply with health and safety regulations.
  • Think about how you will communicate with any workers that will be working remotely from your office.
  • Have you included in the flexible working agreement regular face-to-face meetings? These are essential to engage with your staff and ensure they are working at their optimum efficiency.
  • Have you thought about how you could terminate the flexible working arrangement if it proves to be ineffective?
  • Your employee(s) requesting flexible working from home may need additional training to use the communication technology you will have to install for them. Have you considered this training cost?
  • When using information technology remotely, it is vitally important that you have security systems in place to protect any sensitive information your remote employee(s) may be handling.
  • Check that the business insurance you have in place covers your flexible workers.
  • Have you considered the employment contract you currently have with your employee? This will need to be modified to reflect the new flexible working arrangements that have been agreed.

Flexible Working at Home

The push for more flexible working has been largely due to the desire for your employees to have a better work/life balance. Working at home full or part time enables your employees to continue with their jobs, but also have an improved family life. If an employee requests flexible working in your business and wants to work from their home, there are a number of points to consider:
  • The cost of setting-up a home office can be considerable. Ensure you have looked closely at these costs including the on-going maintenance and the rental cost of a broadband connection to the Internet.
  • As your employee will be working away from your office, your health and safety regime will have to be extended to their home. You will need to perform a full risk assessment of the space they will be working in. Your business has a duty of care no matter where your employee is located.
  • Data protection legislation also comes into play if your employee will be holding sensitive information about the clients of your business. Your business must protect this data from loss.
  • Tax implications can become complex when an employee works from home. Benefits in kind when equipment is given to an employee and Capital Gains Tax on the sale of an employee’s home all need to be considered, so consult your legal and financial advisors.

Flexible working within your business can deliver real advantages. Your employees feel they are more in control of their lives as they can better handle the commitments they have. Planning is the key to seamlessly implementing flexible working in your business. Take advice and draw up your plans. Keep your employees informed of what’s happening and always regularly measure how well flexible working is operating in your business as flexible working should be an asset not a drain on your business’s resources.

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