It’s 4pm, and your staff are shifting around in their seats. If it turns out they are simply worried about how late they can leave before getting stuck in traffic, or crammed into public transport, it might be time to consider flexible working.
Freedom outside the office
There are many terms that fit under this umbrella, including part time, job share, leaving early or having every other Wednesday off. Flexible working isn’t code for “lying on the sofa watching Jeremy Kyle”, but it does mean you and your employees can work from anywhere that has a phone and internet connection.
Flexible demand is high
It’s also what your staff most likely want, whether or not they are asking for it. A recent Timewise survey found that 87% of employees are already working flexibly or wish they could. If you have younger staff, the demand is higher: 92% of Gen Y and 88% of Gen X – basically anyone after the Baby Boomer generation – want flexible work. The problem? Only 11.1% of roles in the UK paying more than £20,000 pro-rata offer it.
Flexible working makes sense for advisers because they are constantly on the move, whether it’s going to conferences, developing relationships with clients, engaging with their local communities or setting up meetings with fund managers and other people in the sector. Gone are the days of having to connect to the server in the office – forward-thinking tech companies mean advisers can get on with work outside of the usual four walls.
Jump on this bandwagon
Flexible working is becoming a trend – in Europe, at least. Big companies like Volkswagen in Germany have a policy of not emailing employees outside of working hours, while it is illegal to badger employees in France once they’ve stopped working. And unless there’s an emergency, they probably don’t have to either, because studies show that the more freedom and flexibility you award your staff, the more loyal and productive those staff become. For example, according to a 2012 report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, three-quarters of employers found that flexible working had a positive effect on retaining staff and 73% of them said it improves motivation.
Why should this way of working be such a leap anyway? Most of us are already used to using apps such as Uber and Citymapper, all designed to take us from A to B as well as cut out the hard work of printing out maps and asking strangers for directions. We are flexible in most areas of our lives, in fact. We listen to podcasts on the go, speak to our parents on our smartphones and can even adjust our home heating on the way back from the airport. Working smartly and more efficiently is long overdue.
The business case
And if none of that convinces you to give flexible working a whirl, you might want to consider that it could improve your bottom line, by possibly reducing your office space, as well as recruitment costs. (Advisers know how much time and money it takes to hire the right people, as well as training and sponsoring their exams.) If you’re keen on the social aspect, flexible working also reduces your carbon footprint, as well as the number of Boots Meal Deals you may or may not consume on any given week.
Get the right tech
One last thing. If staff are out and about, having the right tech to support this way of working is crucial. For advisers, a solid and reliable tech system combined with flexible working is likely to be a win-win situation. It means more time spent doing what you enjoy, such as creating a financial plan or getting to know a client, rather than poring over boring forms and perhaps even repeating the same details into multiple systems. Now, you better get going – you have 25 minutes until rush hour.