Why Do Small Businesses Not Offer More Flexible Working?

One of the big potential advantages of running your own business is the possibility of working with a higher degree of flexibility. There are definite signs that people are starting to find a better work life balance and a better way of living because of this.

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image courtesy of Ewan McIntosh via Flickr

However, it seems as though not all entrepreneurs are taking full advantage of the chance of adding flexibility to their businesses.

One of the countries where flexible working in small businesses is a hot topic is the UK. In fact, since 2014 there has been legislation in place means that full time workers can ask for flexible working. This applies to everyone who has been with an employer for more than 6 months and isn’t just restricted to the likes of parents and carers. Interestingly, research carried out by the Working Families campaign group has revealed that 90% of British companies already offered the chance to work flexibly even before the law was changed.

As well as flexible working hours, this modern approach to work can also involve staying at home to complete a day’s work. In this case, modern technology, a good internet connection and a cloud-based approach are vital. It is also becoming increasingly common for firms to share working spaces, which can also lead to new networking and collaboration opportunities as well.

Major Benefits

Of course, the companies that go down this route can find some major benefits to embracing a new way of working. These include lower overheads as there is no office or a smaller office, a more relaxed lifestyle and the possibility of recruiting the right staff from further afield if necessary.

On the other hand, a study in Australia suggests that small businesses in the country have been slower to take on the more flexible approach to working. This research was carried out by Galaxy on behalf of Citrix. The main result here is that the economy in Australia could be missing out on billions of dollars in possible productivity claims by not working smarter.

This survey covered just over one thousand office workers across the country. It turns out that 56% of them are not able to work for home, despite the fact that 72% of them want to. Lindsay Brown is the regional director of Citrix and he said that most companies “do not trust their employees” to work as productively at home as they do in the office.

A Big Lifestyle Difference

The 2 out 3 workers who want the chance to work from home say that it could make a big difference to their work life balance and their overall quality of life. This is not surprising when you see that Australians spend 82 million hours a week commuting. More working from home opportunities could mean that workers get to save close to $109 in travelling costs every single week.

As for the negative effects for businesses that don’t try out a flexible approach, it has been suggested that they could lose out due to a higher turnover and associated recruitment and training costs. This theory is backed up by the fact that three quarters of the workers surveyed said that they would consider moving to another job offering them a flexible working pattern. Meanwhile, of the respondents aged between 55 and 59, close to three quarters of them would work more hours and stay for longer if they had the option of working flexibly. It has been estimated that could boost the Australian economy to the tune of $135 billion in terms of increased productivity.

In fact, it appears that small business are the least likely to give their employees the chance to occasionally work from home or to try out different working hours. They are also less likely than bigger companies to give their staff mobile technology so that they can take advantage of modern technology. The survey noted that 60% of workers in small businesses believe that they would be able to work more effectively if they had access to cloud technology.

So, will entrepreneurs have to move to a more flexible way of working in the future, anyway? Certainly, the London Business School and Deloitte report that by the time 2020 comes around about half of all workers will be working from home. If you still aren’t convinced by the possible benefits of doing this then there is also the report in the Harvard Business Review that suggest big productivity and job satisfaction gains when staff are allowed to work from home. No commuting, less sick leave and fewer distractions some of the other potential advantages.

Flexible working may not be right for everyone but it is definitely worth checking out. This video will help you get started if you want to.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtMTkgqfEYg

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