Okay, so this isn’t quite the view from my desk. But it is just down the road from my house as I’m lucky enough to be able to work, part-time, from my home in the South of France: I moved near Montélimar after a 3 month sabbatical last year. But enough of the bragging – I am extremely fortunate and very grateful to my employer, Atom, for considering the requests for flexible working I have made over the years and for being able to find compromises that we are both happy with and that have worked well.
Offering flexible working may mean many things to you as a business owner. Possibly a load of unwanted hassle and additional paperwork. But the value placed on it by your employees could make the offer of flexible working a useful and very cost effective incentive, especially when offering cash bonuses or perks like a company car, or even a pay rise, is simply unaffordable.
In my time at Atom I have worked full time, left the company (to spend a year in the US), been re-employed, had three children (all of whom arrived unexpectedly early) and returned to work part-time following maternity leave. I have worked from home, hot-desking in the office on a regular, agreed basis. And now I find myself living in France, but still working for the same company, nearly 18 years on from when I first joined.
Over the years, Atom have managed to make flexible working work for both me and them. If there weren’t a good business reason for granting my requests, they wouldn’t have done. Rather than possibly writing off requests for flexible working as a nuisance, employers should give them serious consideration (as is required by law – see below) and think about how flexible working could work for the business. Your employees will thank you for it and in return you stand to gain hard working, productive and loyal ambassadors for your company, at relatively little cost.
My life in France is, of course, set to get slightly more complicated after the UK voted to leave the EU last week, but the great flexible working relationship I have with Atom will hopefully remain unchanged.
The legal bit…
Since June 2014 any eligible employee can apply to work flexibly for any reason. Employers are obliged to consider all requests objectively and fairly. Any refusal must be justified with a clear business reason.