'Flexibility' and 'flexible work' are terms used to describe a wide range of work styles and employment practices. Broadly speaking, they include any employment which differs from the traditional nine to five full-time job. Getting the work-life balance right is increasingly important for many colleagues who have personal responsibilities and interests outside of work, and many people now want increased flexibility over and above other work-related benefits. As a result, flexibility in the way that colleagues undertake work can have a real and positive impact on the performance of individuals and teams.
The 'flexible' aspect of work can benefit colleagues and the University. From the employee’s point of view, flexible work may allow more freedom to organise their employment to fit in with other parts of their life. For the employer, flexibility may come with the ability to organise people resources more in line with the varying needs of 'customers', or with peaks and troughs of demand. Flexibility can have a positive impact for all.
There are a number of reasons why managers should consider moving away from traditional patterns of work, and be open to considering flexibility in work patterns:
- the changing academic cycle of a year;
- the need to cover a working day that is increasingly outside the traditional nine to five in line with the demands of ‘customers’;
- the increasing need to improve efficiency and contain costs;
- the need to recruit and retain the highest quality staff by offering a flexible approach to work as a real employee benefit;
- the need to promote equality of opportunity.
There are a range of flexible working practices within the University. These pages bring these practices together and describes the various strategies which managers might adopt to meet the needs of both the University and the individual.
The University is committed to offering equality of opportunity to all employees and to increasing diversity in the workforce and will give due consideration to any reasonable request for flexibility. Managers are encouraged to be open to such suggestions, but employees must appreciate the constraints that might demand a refusal or modification of the request. Specific actions to increase diversity and to support employees at work include offering flexible working opportunities which includes job-sharing, both when recruiting to a vacant post and when considering flexible working applications from employees. These Flexible Working guidelines apply to all staff, regardless of length of service, grade, or personal circumstances.
What managers need to think about
Consideration of how the flexibility of one colleague will impact on other members of the team will need to be made. It may be the manager will need to speak to colleagues about a proposed flexible working request before it can be agreed with the employee. The manager should let the employee know they are going to discuss it with others before they do so.
Consideration of how long the flexible working can be supported will need to be included. It may be the employee puts forward a flexible working request that is temporary in nature and this can be supported on a short-term basis. However, if the proposal is for a permanent change, consideration must be given to whether the long-term proposal can be supported.
For employees that deliver teaching, the Timetabling Team require Flexible Working Requests to be approved by the School and logged with HR for teaching commitments to be planned around an individual’s flexible working requirements.
Flexible working - hours
There could be various ways that an employee could request to shape their working hours flexibly, examples include:
- reduce hours to work part-time
- change start and finish times
- have flexibility start and finish times (sometimes known as ‘flexitime’)
- do working hours over fewer days (‘compressed hours’)
- share the job with someone else.
The change can be requested for:
- all working days
- specific days or shifts only
- specific weeks only, for example during school term time
- a limited time, for example for 6 months only
Flexible working – location
There could be various ways an employee could request where they carry out their work. To shape the role that they do around their home-life or commitments, they may request to work off-campus or remote from the usual working place.
The change could be requested for all working days, for set days of the week or for a particular percentage of their working time. Consideration must be given as to how this will impact on the service being provided and ensure it can be accommodated along with other colleagues’ in the team.
The University has Remote Working Guidance to getting set up, staying connected, getting on the move, learning and development and tax implications for carrying out work off-campus.