Flexible working is one of the most debated topics in the modern workplace. Most businesses now believe that introducing flexible working schemes can boost morale, improve productivity, drive staff retention and, in some cases, even help to recruit fresh talent. As a result, around 63% of companies now offer flexible working to their employees in some shape or form. Here is a guide on how to make it work for your company:

Staff buy-in
The most successful flexible working schemes are almost always those that are introduced with full employee consultation and participation. Surveys should be distributed amongst staff to gauge reaction and opinion and any plan that is implemented should be well communicated to staff at every stage - they need to know the logic behind such a dramatic shift in their working practice in order to support and endorse it.

Communicate with staff

Fundamentally, staff should be advised from the very beginning on why the company has taken this direction and how this will affect their working life moving forwards. In most cases, schemes will be better received and more successful if employees are integrated into the planning process and if key decisions are made based on their input.

According to research by the CIPD, 68% of employers reported thatflexible working has had a positive impact on employee attitude andmoral

Many companies that practice flexible working will use a desk-booking system to enable hoteling. This is without doubt the most fair and organised way of putting flexible working into action.

How to choose desk-booking software
Desk-booking software should be chosen on the basis of convenience and ease of use and increasingly those that can bolt onto the company Intranet or the Internet are the most popular. Once again, staff should be consulted during the decision making process as they will be using the tool on a daily basis.

Real estate cost savings

Hoteling can allow companies to divest huge amounts of under-utilised real estate and cut down on energy guzzling desk space. However, when migrating to a hot desk setting, wider changes in the office environment should take place to make it a more pleasant place to work.

Office lay out
In addition to hot desking areas, often referred to as touchdown points, employers should consider creating more relaxed areas containing softer seating and Wi-Fi connections, to improve the look, feel and functionality of the workplace. In addition, a sense of belonging will need to be restored and fixed storage spaces should be provided to all members of staff that are sharing desks.

Business as usual

According to research by the CIPD, 68% of employers reported that flexible working has had a positive impact on employee attitude and moral. Most businesses will also affirm that flexible working boosts productivity. But with staff on the road and working from home, there is a danger that communication will break down. It is essential that routine meetings take place to keep workers well informed and to provide staff with a sense of involvement, unity and teamwork.

Trial period
As with most aspects of business, it is always worth testing the water first. Most companies will trial flexi-working and hot desking for six months before rolling it out permanently.

An evaluation should be conducted into how the business has benefited from the scheme and staff should be invited once again to voice their opinions before making the final decision.

The overall benefits
The positives that come with flexible working and hoteling far outweigh any negatives. Companies can save substantial amounts of money through improved office utilisation and can increase turnover and productivity at the same time by boosting staff morale. In spite of this, businesses need to carefully and meticulously plan how they roll out such schemes and pay extra attention to how they will affect employees in the long run.

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