Having spent more than twenty years recruiting senior executives for organisations of all sizes, I’ve seen in action the benefit that offering flexible working opportunities adds to the recruitment process.
I’ve seen flexible working becoming more and more prevalent in the UK and also in Europe, even at senior executive level where businesses are now demanding much more fluidity. That’s because employers recognise the strong business case in favour of providing flexible working for both staff and their bottom line.
I see on a daily basis that employers who do offer flexible working conditions are at an immediate advantage over their competitors when attempting to recruit the best talent. High performers want to work for organisations with dynamic and flexible working cultures.
More and more candidates see flexible working as the norm and progressive organisations have responded to this allowing flexible working to form part of the overall incentive package right alongside salaries and other benefits.
There will always be employers who refuse to accept the fact that the workplace is changing and demands flexibility, but with technology capabilities being so advanced, these are the ones that are increasingly being left behind. Many of the firms that we work with are openly championing their affinity for flexible working and their willingness to discuss flexible working in order to attract the best candidates from the widest possible talent pool.
As an international executive search firm, flexibility plays an integral part in the way that we work. Many of our own colleagues use flexible working to support their work/life balance, whether that’s as parents, or their commuting time and location. This has helped us to attract and retain employees from much wider and diverse backgrounds, and giving us a much better chance to attract the best talent.
We have several colleagues with young children who operate in their roles with flexible working solutions. As an example, Ela Wachowska, an Accounts Assistant in our London office comes into the office later than most so that she can drop her daughter at school and then leaves early to be able to pick up her daughter from school later, completing outstanding activities remotely:
“This flexibility has helped me tremendously, enabling an effective work/home life balance, whilst still enabling me to complete all the responsibilities that I have on time”.
Thanks to the internet, it has never been easier and as cost effective to offer and implement flexible working. Technology has become a huge driver of change with virtual meeting and teleconferencing and access to systems and email now widely available, making it possible to work wherever and whenever.
Although it has been almost two years since the “right to request” to work flexibly became UK law, as with anything else in business, this must tie in with the overall business needs and there will be occasions when flexible working isn’t feasible. Every organisation is unique and must assess their individual needs based upon the nature of work that they do and the services that they offer. However, I do believe that there is a real business case for flexible working that benefits both the business community and the greater society at large.
Increasingly it is becoming more widespread and beneficial to offer and implement more flexible working options as the demands and expectations of a 24/7 consumer society increases. Business and employees need each other and with clear benefits, I foresee the nine to five office-based requirement no longer being the default option for businesses.
Justin Hobday is the Managing Director at Carmichael Fisher EMEA, a leading executive search firm focused on senior level recruitment across various industry sectors.