A series of recent roundtable discussions, involving prominent senior representatives of over 25 Sussex, Surrey and South London based businesses, has resulted in a blueprint to successful implementation of flexible working.

Initiated by Emma Cleary, Flexibility Matters, each discussion group contained varying sized businesses from different industries. All revealed that with the right application, the rewards of a flexible workforce can far outweigh any perceived challenges.

All companies involved offer flexible arrangements already, with part-time, working from home and flexible hours the most widely offered with core hours and job shares the least popular. Comparing this with national statistics sees a similar trend and, with 87% of UK employees either working flexibly already or wanting to, it’s clearly essential for ALL businesses to consider recruiting flexibly to retain the best talent.

Discussions recognised the key implementation challenges facing all the companies were:

  • Enabling the flexible working mindset to filter through multiple levels of management, especially difficult within larger more traditional organisations.
  • Managing the large variety of work patterns and different needs of regional offices.
  • Tackling tech, training and communication issues at a team level.

To realise the rewards of a flexible workforce, it was established that the following key points need addressing:

  • A cultural core value shift that requires implementation from the very top, led by example and evident in CEOs and line managers working flexibly themselves.
  • A visible support of the educational shift that makes flexible working ‘the norm’, ensuring it meets business and employer needs.
  • Internal promotion of success stories regarding retention, talent and productivity – proving that flexible arrangements improve the bottom line
  • A clear set of guiding principles and management strategies that sit alongside the official company flexible working policy that enables all managers at all levels to navigate varying work patterns and needs.
  • Flexible working options to feature within role advertising to attract the best talent and at interview stage to establish an ideal work pattern that also meets the demands of the role.
  • Fostering a results-based culture rather than focusing on time spent at work – supporting managers with the tools to measure this.
  • An investment in tech (over office space) to enable remote working. Applying the same amount of focus given to offering the customer a technical solution to internal teams.
  • Transparent website and promotional materials that are loud and proud about the company flexible working practices, maternity and paternal leave.

Flexibility Matters Director, Emma Cleary enthuses: “From collating key flexible working strategy insights from influential heads of Sussex and Surrey based companies, we’re now really excited to be able to produce best practice guidelines.”

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