Flexible working is often touted as the promised land of employment. For instance, PwC, the professional services firm, recently revealed new employees in the company will be able to choose their own working hours – something people could’ve only dreamt of a few years ago. So why shouldn’t franchisors and franchisees incorporate flexible working in their offering?
Looking into the reasons behind this trend, it all comes down to people striving to make the most out of their time. “Work-life balance is a major concern for many people these days,” says Sue Tumelty, founder of The HR Dept, the HR service franchise. “No one’s last words are ‘I wish I had spent more time in the office.'” But combining a hectic work schedule with a family life and enough time for unwinding, this is something a standard nine to five timetable makes almost impossible. “There’s no one simple answer to the problem but flexible working can offer a variety of solutions such as working from home, compressed hours or starting earlier or later,” Tumelty reasons.
Given flexible working is all about lifestyle choices, it can also bring professionals some wellbeing advantages. “Those able to work flexibly benefit from high levels of motivation, less stress and greater productivity,” suggests Julian Hall, founder of Ultra Education, the franchise teaching business. He believes more freedom for employees to choose their way of work even contributes to better health. “Lowering levels of stress help us to maintain safe levels of mental health, blood pressure and things like depression,” adds Hall.
Similarly, more awareness of one’s schedule makes it easier to maintain a healthy rhythm around family. “I think one of the main advantages of flexible working is having little more headspace,” argues Holly Pither a blogger and a head of editorial at Bottle, a PR agency. Contrary to common belief, an alternative schedule does not impede people’s performance, quite the opposite. Canada Life Group Insurance recently surveyed 1,001 UK full and part-time employees. The research revealed 77% feel flexible working helps productivity.” “Knowing I can log on later and finish off some tasks and still leave the office on time to pick up my baby from childcare means I spend less time panicking and more time doing my job well,” Pither says.
As flexible working brings a number of positives, it also requires some considerations. For example, franchisors have to ensure they’re on the same page with franchisees. “This is why time must be spent at the initial enquiry stage to ensure values are aligned between the franchisor and the franchisee,” Tumelty argues.
Another thing to consider is whether or not you trust your franchisees and employees. It’s particularly vital as franchisors have little insight on everyday operations of their franchisees’, the former should ensure they’ve got the right people to invest trust in. “So don’t let the few that might abuse that trust ruin it for the vast majority who would welcome the flexibility, do more and have a better sense of purpose, ” says Steve Byrne, CEO of Travel Counsellors, the travel franchise.
That’s why tracking the results of your company’s workers is so vital if you’re considering flexible working. “It’s important not to assume success but to work towards it in a collaborative way,” Hall suggests. For this reason, staying aware of your progress can prevent a significant amount of burden. “You treasure what you measure and keeping a track of progress while working flexibly can ensure that both parties are getting the most of that way of working.” Hall advises.
However, as much as flexible working and working from home have their advantages, the old-fashioned way of communication in business remains pivotal. “I still think it’s essential to have times when everyone is able to get together in the office,” Pither explains. “The importance of face to face is still critical for team work in my opinion.”
Since the number of people willing to break away from the standard working hours is increasing, we can consider franchising a good example that flexible work is not about slacking off. As Holly Pither concludes: “After all it’s not the hours worked but what you do in that time that’s important.”