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Flexible work is better work

Equalities Commission produces guide for managers

The Equality and Human Rights Commission have produced a new guide to flexible work, Working Better: A managers’ guide to Flexible Working.

The Equality Commission is a strong supporter of flexible working, believing that flexibility is key to achieving equal opportunities and greater fairness in the workplace.  And it is also, according to the guide, better for business.

The problem the guide seeks to address, is that not all managers are convinced of this, and many of those who are convinced don't know where to start.

The guide covers:

  • The business benefits that firms can achieve
  • Key principles for introducing flexibility
  • Advice on creating a flexible workplace
  • Key management skills required
  • Case studies of innovative working in large and small firms
  • A problem-solving Q&A for challenging situations

The 44 page guide is at an introductory level in terms of advice, encouraging managers to think creatively and to question traditional assumptions.  The meat is mainly in the case studies.  As Trevor Phillips, the Commission's Chair, said to the Chambers of Commerce at the launch  in Manchester:

"We in the Commission warmly welcome firms going beyond the bare minimum of the flexible work legislation because it’s the kind of reform that makes the world of work more accessible, more inclusive and fairer to all.

"That’s why, where some firms are leading the way, the Commission want to help others follow their example. To put some minds at rest: this isn’t about bureaucrats telling you how to run your business. We are not inventing the advice in this guide, we’re distilling it. It’s drawn from the experiences of major retailers, international law firms, and manufacturers, high-street names and ambitious SMEs. This is not what we say, it's what the best of you say."

Encouraging innovation

The guide encourages managers to be innovative, and gives some case study examples where this has paid dividends  And it strongly encourages an approach that is business focused, looking to align the interests of employees with the interests of the bottom line.

There is a theme in the advice of working from the ground up, particularly on a team basis, to introduce new patterns of work. Senior managers need to be shown in practice how it works, to overcome possible resistance.

All this is good, but at Flexibility, our experience is that the flexible work implementations that run into trouble are those that don't have strong top-level support at the outset.  Managers initiating change do far better when they know that their decisions will be supported from the top.

Overall, this is a well thought-out guide, and a welcome addition to the canon of guidance on flexible working.



November 2009




All material copyright Flexibility.co.uk 2009