One week after we revealed the value of which men and women hold of flexible working arrangements in Asia, the second part of our two-week series on flexible working looks at how businesses are underestimating the benefits the practice brings to their organisation.
The provision of flexible working options has huge benefits for organisations as well as its employees, with attraction, retention and engagement all improving as a result, according to recruiting experts Hays in the latest edition of its Hays Journal.

Despite the perceived benefits it offers, some organisations have been reverting back to office-based work, which offers less in terms of flexibility. “In recent years many businesses have been able to offer their employees more flexibility in terms of how and when they work, but business leaders have begun asking if this makes good business sense and positively impacts team dynamics. This has led to cases of reduced flexible working options”, says Tom Osborne, Regional Director of Hays Malaysia.

But Hays warns there is a danger in cutting back the flexibility offered to employees, as it has the potential to lead to tensions between managers and employees, in turn impacting loyalty, morale, engagement and retention and attraction. Tom offers this advice, “I would urge businesses to think about why they started offering flexibility in the first place. If it was to attract or retain workers with sought after skills or to improve staff morale, then removing flexible working options will bring those issues to the forefront again. Ask yourself, is there a workable solution, a middle ground to keep both parties happy?” Flexible working can help reduce tardiness and absenteeism. A study conducted by the Women in Management Review indicated that 63% of workers said that they would be absent less if offered some form of FWAs.

While flexible working offers employees the freedom to choose when and where they work, it can create communication challenges. There is also a level of trust that needs to be awarded to employees if they are not office based. Tom adds, “Digitalisation has allowed skilled workers to be able to work flexibly, efficiently and remotely, and there is growing demand for new roles within this evolving landscape. Looking ahead, organisations will be able to focus more on adapting their workforce in the face of a rapidly developing technological landscape.

Tom concludes by saying, “For workers in skill short areas, organisations that offer flexible working can often beat the competition to an employee’s signature. Cutting back on flexible working is a huge retention risk. Flexible working can still work, however, businesses must make sure employees know what is expected of them out of the office and that the company’s core values are understood. Common ground must be found, as businesses don’t want to lose their talented employees. One compromise could be to identify the work that can be done remotely and which will need collaboration and interaction with teammates.”

Source: Hays