Embracing a flexible working environment

5th of June 2019 Article by Chris Edwards
Embracing a flexible working environment

Chris Edwards, Facilities Show event director, outlines why now's the time to adopt flexible working practices.

Increasing focus on workplace wellbeing, advances in technology, the importance of sustainable buildings and recognition of the overhead costs of managing office space has resulted in an increased shift towards flexible working.

Organisations are recognising the business benefits of a more adaptable way of working. This is not only about staff hours or office design; but covers a combination of factors including engagement and working culture. It is about creating an environment and conditions where ideas thrive, and staff can be creative.

Time is precious

Time is the most valuable currency, professionally and personally. Being able to work on a schedule that is more conducive to an employee's effectiveness and personal commitments results in more efficient, stress-free use of staff time.

Hot desking, working from home, flexi-time, working part-time, job-shares, and guilt-free time off all contribute to flexible working. People have varied reasons for working in the cleaning and FM industries, and different aspirations for what they hope to get out of it. New patterns are emerging, with workers wanting career breaks, secondments or sabbaticals to study, time to travel, and parental leave to spend time with their children. Furthermore, they want to be able to spend this time without any pressure from employers.

Breaks also form an important part of a productive working day. Encouraging staff to step outside for lunch, providing access to a gym, break out spaces and quiet zones are all important factors.

Creative environments

Flexibility in the office space environment is a growing element that contributes to productive workplaces. The highest performing organisations are ones that offer a range of choices in terms of the working environment, such as quiet zone areas where employees can escape from the normal office hubbub, and breakout spaces with soft furnishings for informal meetings. Amenities such as gyms, childcare, excellent cafeterias, and relaxed surroundings are reasons why people want to work with a company or not.

Employees are also empowered if they can work comfortably. This includes providing lightweight, ergonomic machinery and postural variety, i.e. sitting at a desk, working in the staff canteen, or adjustable height desks that allow staff to sit or stand as they work. A more flexible approach to the design of the workspace helps promote movement and wellbeing.

The impact of smart buildings

Essentially a smart building is one in which energy and operational systems are controlled and regulated automatically - or with minimal human intervention - to provide comfortable, efficient, high-performance working environments. At their core, they use technology to improve the lives of the people that use or manage them. These benefits can be manifested in many ways, including improvements in wellbeing, comfort and accessibility, as well as energy and operational efficiency.

Culture and engagement

If there isn't a culture where it's ok to go and sit in a café and work, then you're not going
to get people making the most of options. Senior leaders must buy into the idea of
flexible working and demonstrate it, so everyone feels they can do it too. Fundamentally, people work best when they are comfortable, unconstrained and able to engage with their team and their surroundings.

Professionals interested in seeing the latest FM innovations and hearing thought-provoking seminar sessions on these themes can find out more at Facilities Show 2019. Free to attend, the world's largest dedicated the world's largest dedicated facilities management, and workplace wellbeing and smart buildings event takes place at ExCeL London from 18-20 June.

For more information visit Facilities Show 2019 and register for your free ticket here.

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