ACAS: Flexible working can reduce work-life conflict

Friday 15 September 2017

Flexible working is becoming increasingly common among businesses as they look to improve the work/life balance of employees and boost staff retention.

New research from Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) has investigated some of the benefits of the approach, finding that it boosted personal and team effectiveness, while also improving the organisational skills of employees. 

What’s more, the findings show that homeworkers are more efficient than office-based staff because of fewer distractions, and their improved performance also helps to improve overall productivity and effectiveness. 

As well as this, the research identified that employees who were able to operate flexibly demonstrated better commitment and showed a willingness to “give back” to their organisation, including working overtime and changing their hours. 

However, carrying out duties at home can quickly lead to work intensification, where staff feel required to pay back a company for meeting their needs by overworking. 

While the advantages of flexible working were clear for staff, the study found that implementing new ways of working should be handled with care. It found that ad-hoc arrangements in particular can have an adverse impact on morale. 

Although it is key to treat requests on a case-by-case basis, the research recommends using fair and consistent terms when it comes to implementing flexible working, or members of staff could feel undervalued. 

Is flexible working an option for you or your business?

Whether you are leading a new startup, or looking to start a career as a freelancer, flexible working could definitely benefit your performance and work/life balance.

With widespread connectivity making it easy for many professionals to do their job anywhere, the traditional nine-to-five working hours are being challenged, but some companies remain hesitant to change.

If you decide to enter the world of self-employment, it’s likely you’ll spend a prolonged period of time operating from home as you get to grips with all the responsibilities that come with working for yourself, including adhering to rules such as IR35 and meeting your tax requirements. 

With this in mind, it is key to create strict hours of work so that you maintain a good work/life balance.

A study from the Hans Boeckler Foundation’s Institute of Economic and Social Research further emphasises the importance of avoiding overworking. The findings recommend creating a separate space for work duties, so a clear separation between your day job and private life can be achieved.  

For small business owners considering making flexible working available for their staff, the study suggests leading by example by only emailing colleagues during regular hours. 


By Victoria McDonnell

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