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Meeting the needs of both employees and employers, flexible working is a direct response to the changing way we want to live and work, and it’s powered by the continued evolution of new technologies. It is a game-changer for many businesses.

It is also a key component of the agile organisation and its benefits are many and well documented. They include helping to alleviate workplace stress and boost job satisfaction for employees as well as reducing costs, building adaptability into operations and presenting a more progressive image for employees.

Businesses on the cusp of introducing flexible working will have already outlined a clear rationale and business case for making the change. However, even with that commitment, there is still a major challenge to address. How do you ensure you’re putting the right framework and practices in place to support the long-term successful adoption of flexible working in order to reap its benefits?

The answer lies in taking a close look at your process, people, place and technology – which can be summarised in six key steps:


The first step is to proactively set out your flexible working policy. All UK employees are entitled to ask for flexible working arrangements so all businesses must have a clear, concise and published policy that sets out what flexibility means to their business. It should give careful consideration to how it affects different job roles and responsibilities, how much flexibility you are offering, how this will be structured in operational terms, the behaviours you expect of employees and the tools you agree to provide.

It’s important to remember the power of considering your organisational culture within your policy – without a culture of trust, support and empowerment, flexible working will fail.


Secondly, it is necessary to ask whether you have the right tools and operating practices in place to support flexibility. It’s easy to say you will accommodate flexible hours or some remote working but it’s quite another thing to ensure the wider technology, tools and infrastructure are in place to ensure employees are as efficient from outside the office as within.

You should pay special attention to areas such as:

Tools – How will calls be handled when people are working remotely? And do you have the unified communication systems and collaboration technologies you need to support remote working?

Processes – Do you have the document management systems and workflows in place so employees can access valuable assets digitally, remotely and securely?

Management – How will you care for, support and manage more transient employees?


With greater flexibility and remote working comes a new set of demands on your business’s security infrastructure, as cyber security threats and data breaches are on the rise. It is important to ensure that firewalls and security standards can accommodate this new set of behaviours.

It pays to give advance thought to whether you have the appropriate document security software, printing solutions and network protection in place to protect your assets and intellectual property before employees start working from a variety of locations.


The fourth step is one of the most overlooked yet most important – to create a pilot. Before rolling out flexible working in its entirety, it is recommended to commission a pilot and engage with employees to understand their wants and needs.

This will also help to identify what makes an appealing flexible working policy as well as any other wider investments that are needed in relation to technology, people or place. A pilot will provide an opportunity to hone your plans and seek third party expertise if needed.


Flexible working creates a new set of training needs. Training should not be seen as a one-off event, but an ongoing programme to ensure that the right behaviours become and remain habit. Upfront training will be needed to show employees how to use new processes, tools and technologies and how to manage remote and flexible workers.

Periodic refresher training and incentives will also help to instil the desired flexible behaviours, reinforce a culture of trust and help employees to get the best out of your agile tools – be that document management systems, room booking technology or video-based collaboration tools.


The final step is that of evaluation to check whether flexible working is really working. Are employees happier, healthier and more productive and is it delivering tangible benefits for the business too?

By agreeing a set of measures up front and regularly evaluating performance, it is possible to benchmark flexible working and areas for possible improvement.

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