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Flexible working: savings or an investment?

 
Download PDF The savings you realize in accommodation costs for one year as a result of introducing Flexible Working should be invested in assisting employees and/or in the purchase of computer accessories. This was one of the statements included in the International Flexible Working Survey that we conducted recently. Of the HR professionals in the Netherlands, 41% agreed with this statement (agreement was 38% in England). This brings up an underlying question: Does Flexible Working actually save money or does it require just the opposite: investment?

Cost savings and employee satisfaction
Opinions about the most important reason to introduce Flexible Working vary per country. In the Netherlands, for instance, the main reason is the cost savings it provides. In Belgium and England, ‘meeting the preferences of personnel’ is deemed important, while HR professionals in Germany indicated that they expect ‘flexible working to result in a higher level of satisfaction among employees’. If you want to do a good job of introducing Flexible Working, it would be smart to invest what you save in costs in your employees and resources, says Martin Hooijmans, CEO at BakkerElkhuizen: ‘What we see in actual practice is that organizations that get the best results from the introduction of Flexible Working are the ones that coordinate this effectively within the “Flexible Working triangle” represented by the HR, ICT and Facility departments.’



Organizational changes
Hooijmans: ‘As a general rule, it is often assumed that the savings generated during the first year (on leasing, insurance policies, energy and security, etc.) should be invested in supporting Flexible Working. This investment is needed to get the organizational change headed down the right path. Managers, for example, have to be coached to promote output and to focus less on attendance, but employees, too, will have to be assisted when Flexible Working is introduced. After all, they will be working at various workstations. To do their work ergonomically and productively, they will also require various accessories such as a notebook and its notebook stand, a compact keyboard, and a mouse. Even though an organization’s employees are no longer working at the office at all times, the organization is still responsible for ensuring that they can also work comfortably and ergonomically at home and while commuting.’

This means that Flexible Working is never limited just to saving on costs but also includes - especially during the first year - investing in employees and resources.

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