Flexible working policies create an inclusive workplace, allowing everyone - not just women - to develop a working pattern that suits their lives whilst still doing an effective job. But it can carry a stigma and result in negative perceptions.
We prefer to think of it as agile and effective working. It offers an opportunity for people to build a better work/life balance, and when people are happy their productivity increases. Employers should focus on the output and outcomes.
There are creative ways to approach it: shorter hours, shorter weeks, working from home, working four weeks out of five, job sharing… the idea is to be flexible. And the keys to success are having working relationships built on trust, then recognising and rewarding performance and deliverables.
If you want to make flexible working succeed in your workplace, here are some things to think about:
- Focus on work outputs and outcomes.
- Introduce it as a gender-neutral way of working for everyone.
- Embed it into the culture so it is not a barrier to promotion.
- Encourage take-up (set goals if it helps).
- Talk about it positively and have male and female role models.
- Schedule events, networking and training to suit.
- Track against goals and publicise the results.
- Mention it in job adverts.