Changing the 9-5 mindset: How to design roles flexibly

All the research points to the fact that a sizeable proportion of the working population want to work flexibly. Traditional ways of working - that is office-based, 9-to-5, Monday to Friday roles - are declining as rapidly as the demand for flexibility is rising.

Employers who want the pick of the talent need to offer flexible working. Flexibility is no longer a ‘nice to have’; it’s an essential tactic for attracting talent and a source of competitive advantage. If you want to engage and retain the top talent in the market, you need to build flexible working and flexible hiring into your recruitment strategy. 

We've shared our tips on how to end the 9-5 mindset and design roles flexibly - first time. 

21 February 2019

The importance of job design

When it comes to defining flexible and agile roles, the importance of job design isn’t always given the consideration it deserves. But this (often overlooked) first step is crucial in determining whether and how flexibility can be successfully implemented - if at all. 

Difficulties arise when employers take a role which has previously been worked full-time and try to make it flexible - often without considering the wider needs of the business. The same applies to managers who are too quick to make a decision on flexible working without fully considering how it will work in practice.

Failing to consider the implications of flexibility within a role can mean that flexible working is granted and working patterns are implemented which are unsuitable for both businesses and individuals. Asking someone to work a full-time role in part-time hours is setting them up to fail - with the only likely outcome being burnout, low productivity and poor motivation all round. 

So where should you start when introducing flexibility into a role? Our advice is at the beginning - looking at what the job involves before determining if, how and where flexibility could be introduced.

Develop an accurate job description

Outlining the role and writing an accurate job description, with role responsibilities and the duties of the post-holder, will give you a clearer, rounder view of the job. This will help you identify any elements of the role which might affect the format of the flexible pattern, such as minimum hours required or number of days worked.

Being clear, in the job description, about what flexible working options are available will also help you attract candidates. 

Location, location, location

For employers, the appeal of flexible working is that it allows them to choose where and when they feel that they’re the most productive. But this isn’t always straightforward to implement in practice.

The days of remote working being restricted to the tech-savvy are long gone. When determining what flexibility can be introduced into a role, it’s important to revisit your job description. 

Ask yourself the question - does this employee need to be permanently based in the office? Does the team need to be together? How often do they meet? And most importantly - can this role be worked (at least in part) remotely?

Estimate the work

It’s important that you’re realistic about the scope of the role. Think about the hours required, any potential fluctuations in workload and the availability of other staff to help out during busy periods. This is harder to do when the role has been newly-created. 

Be honest about the hours that each role demands. If part-time hours aren’t possible and you need a full-time employee in the role, there are plenty of other ways that you can introduce flexibility into the equation.

Consider flexible work patterns

There are plenty of ways in which a role can be made flexible - and they don’t all involve working part-time hours. Would a job share work, with two part-time employees collaborating in a full-time position? Or could you consider compressed hours, which involves an employee working longer hours over a four-day week? 

You could look at early-late start and finish times - this would allow someone to commute into the office at off-peak and quieter periods. Alternatively giving someone the option to work remotely for a day or two a week would open the role up to candidates who needs to find a balance in their work-home life. 

Just remember that not all flexible working options will work in all roles - so challenge your perceptions, be creative and consider which flexible working arrangements will work in your business.

If you need help designing flexible roles or moving to a more flexible structure within your business, call Flexology on 0117 214 1224 or email us at contact@flexology.co.uk