What is the role of HR in flexible working?


A team of workers sat round a restaurant table.

Flexible working is here to stay. Most organisations have embraced it in some way, from remote working to flexible hours. 

As a HR professional, do you know how best to introduce and manage flexible working in your business? Read on to find out.

Explain flexible working to employees and line managers

You’ll first need to share the benefits of flexible working to stakeholders and line managers and address any concerns they have.
You’ll also need tell employees about your business’s flexible options and how to request a flexible working schedule. You should also offer training to help everyone in your organisation continue to work well and collaborate while working flexibly. 

Make sure your flexible working policies are fit for purpose

You should regularly review your organisation’s flexible working policies so they are clear, fair and robust. 

As a minimum, your policies should outline:

  • What is allowed e.g. can an employee work from home full-time. Do they have to work 9-5?
  • Any requirements e.g. must everyone be in the office on a certain day or work core hours
  • How to correctly request flexible working 
  • Who can authorise flexible working
  • What counts as a breach of the flexible working policy and what processes are in place if this happens.

Regularly reviewing your flexible working policies means you can make sure they are fair to all employees regardless of their circumstances, such as those with longer commutes or with caring responsibilities. 

You’ll need to make sure any requests for flexible working comply with up-to-date employment law and legislation. 

Manage working hours for flexible workers

45% of people regularly worked longer hours when working remotely compared to when they are in-person office environments. This is often because employees feel they need to prove they are working to their line managers, and struggle to switch off when at home. 

As a HR professional, you’ll need to support employees so they feel comfortable working their contracted hours and can switch off at the end of their day, which ultimately avoids burnout and long-term stress. 

Consider flexible working when taking on new talent

Flexible working means you can recruit new talent regardless of location. If you’re responsible for hiring staff, this means you’ll have a wider pool of candidates to choose from. 

However, make sure you communicate clearly and consider how your organisation’s flexible working policies will work for each candidate to ensure you hire the person who’ll best fit the business. 

Review reward systems and employee benefits

Many employee reward systems and benefits are based on the idea that all employees spend time in the same shared environment. This might not be the case now so you’ll need to consider different ways of treating everyone fairly.

For example, if your company rewards staff by paying for their lunch, why not offer an e-voucher instead for colleagues to spend on their favourite food-delivery service or restaurant? 

Maintain contact with employees working flexibly

HR plays a key role in conflict resolution and employee wellbeing. In a shared workspace, it’s easier to spot any signs of stress, conflict or poor mental health but that’s more difficult when employees are working remotely or different hours. 

Make sure you support all the employees in your organisation by maintaining regular contact with them to:

  • Remind them to contact you if they need help
  • Keep checks on their overall wellbeing
  • Identify any training and development needs
  • Learn about issues and conflicts early on.

As a HR professional, your expertise plays a critical role in helping to deliver successful business outcomes. Need to develop or refresh your knowledge? Take a look at our range of CIPD HR courses or call one of our Qualifications Advisors on 03452 032 103.