The Positives and Negatives of Flexible Working Hours


At Aon we truly believe in the benefits that agile working brings and we've invested in creating a flexible working culture but that doesn't mean its right for everyone.

As such, a sensible approach for businesses considering flexible working would be to look at the pros and cons, to ensure they’re making the right decision. Here, we take a closer look at what flexible working hours can involve, what the positives and negatives can be and other key areas such as the impact of flexible working hours on employee performance.

Flexible Working Explained

Citizens Advice defines ‘flexible working’ for employees as ‘the name given to any type of working pattern which is different from your existing one’. Some examples of this in the workplace can involve:

  • An individual moving from full-time to part-time
  • Moving set working hours for later or earlier starts or finishes, potentially to accommodate personal circumstances
  • ‘Flexitime’ working, where an individual can work longer or shorter days, so long as they work an agreed number of contracted hours
  • Working from home or teleworking
  • Shift work and job sharing

More options and examples of flexible working can be found from the above Citizens Advice link.

Rules and Regulations for Flexible Working Hours

Businesses should also be aware that their employees have a legal right to request flexible working, providing they have worked with the same employer for a period of at least 26 weeks. This is in accordance with official UK Government regulations which also state that employers have to deal with and manage any flexible working hours requests in a ‘reasonable manner’.

Additional guidance around this can be found on the above link.

Positives of Flexible Working Hours

There can be plenty of positive reasons for flexible working hours for employees and employers alike. The potential benefits of flexible working hours for employees can include:

  • Being able to work around issues or circumstances in their private lives that might be impacting on their ability to effectively work to their current shift pattern
  • Offering staff with longer or busy commutes a less stressful travel experience
  • Improved performance from staff who are either more productive with an earlier start or a later finish
  • Possible cost-savings on commuting for those working from home or on a part-time basis
  • The reduced chance of employees feeling run down or overloaded with work
  • Subsequent improved employee morale, off the back of situations like the above

For employers and businesses in general, the benefits can be:

  • Contented and engaged employees who feel valued by the company they work for
  • Increased productivity and potential increased output from revitalised staff
  • Being appealing to prospective employees who may wish to work on a flexible basis
  • Cost saving on utilities and facilities if employees are working from home or outside of the workplace
  • More opportunities for businesses to work to different time zones
  • A potential drop in staff illness

Negatives of Flexible Working Hours

There are also potential negatives that can occur within the business world by having flexible working hours.

  • Organising and arranging events or meetings can be problematic with staff working at different times or locations
  • Being able to work from home can be something some individuals might take advantage of and they might not actually be working
  • It can be difficult to effectively monitor employee performance
  • Divisions and disagreements between employees can occur if some are granted flexible working hours and others are not
  • Communication between employees could be affected and lead to important work not being completed or deadlines being missed

Making a Decision on Flexible Working Hours

As aforementioned, it’s the law that all flexible working hours requests need to be taken into consideration by employers, however these do not have to be accepted if the employer feels they have reasonable grounds to decline them. However, the importance of handling this appropriately cannot be understated as if an employee feels their request has not been treated fairly, they could take their employer to an employment tribunal.

Ultimately, this is where taking into account the above positives and negatives can help with this decision-making; as with this information in mind, a business could then come to a mutually-beneficial agreement for all parties involved. 

Whilst care has been taken in the production of this article and the information contained within it has been obtained from sources that Aon UK Limited believes to be reliable, Aon UK Limited does not warrant, represent or guarantee the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or fitness for any purpose of the article or any part of it and can accept no liability for any loss incurred in any way whatsoever by any person who may rely on it. In any case any recipient shall be entirely responsible for the use to which it puts this article. This article has been compiled using information available to us up to 14/01/19.

Image courtesy of iStock

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