Flexible working requests; how should they be managed?
The number of people working from home more than doubled in 2020, according to the Office for National Statistics. During that time, many companies saved money on office space, utility bills and parking permits and, contrary to what they expected, found that their workforce was just as productive at home as they were in the office.
As a result, increasing numbers of flexible working requests are being made, in particular in respect to working from home and it is important to base decisions on the business need. Remember that allowing one employee to work remotely does not mean you have to say yes to another even if they have a similar set of circumstances and a similar request. Business circumstances may have changed – new clients and contracts, for example, and this can be a key factor in a decision.
In the company handbook, set out the reasons why a request may be turned down, so it doesn’t come as a surprise. If a request is made and the business does refuse, the reason must be provided in writing. It is important to make decisions fairly and the basis of a rejection or acceptance should be consistent across all requests.
Be prepared for work from home requests and consider these on an individual basis, making your decision based on business need rather than a desire to return to pre-lockdown normality.