As our lives become increasingly complex, digital media is helping manage the entirety of our lifestyles. There is no better example of the shift in lifestyles that this entails than the atypical working trend that’s arisen in HR in recent years. What’s more, it only looks set to increase in popularity as we move into 2019. After all, we use our phones and laptops to plan our days and to communicate with one another. These crucial devices help us to fulfill our responsibilities inside and outside of the workplace, too.
As a small business owner, it would seem imperative to understand how this operation works, and how you can make it work for your business and your staff.
Atypical working literally means the working schedule of an employee that doesn’t follow tradition. This tradition is namely the ‘9-5’ that Dolly Parton once sang about famously. In recent years, people are compelled to work longer hours than this tradition.
Our ability to work remotely is part of the reason behind the rise of atypical working. It’s also a response to the growing pressures on individuals and families to live flexible and diverse lives. Atypical working is helping millions of people balance their work and their personal lives in unique and accommodating ways.
An atypical worker might be a freelancer working from home, or a designer working remotely from a tropical beach.
It could be an employee who takes Wednesday and Friday mornings off to care for their child or a mother who needs to leave the office early each day to collect their children from school.
There should always be a reason behind the atypical working life of your employees and usually, it’s a personal responsibility that you’ll be catering towards.
Why Employ Atypical Working Methods?
If you’re sensing that atypical working schedules might be a little complex, you’d be right. It is more straightforward, to some extent, to have your staff come in at the same time each morning, and leave at the same time each afternoon.
But to expect this of your employees is increasingly untenable, especially for those with young families to worry about.
So it’s with a host of employee benefits that you should consider enacting atypical working in your small business.
You’ll get more out of your workers, who’ll feel less stressed about their routines. You’ll be less likely to experience the migration of your staff to other companies that use atypical working as a bonus.
Finally, you’ll still be able to manage your staff in the traditional way. The difference is that you’ll often be doing that remotely, which is a great help in terms of cutting the time you spend chatting to your employees in the office.
A Growing Trend?
Recent figures suggest that different methods of atypical working are well and truly here to stay. Indeed, they’ll increase in popularity as time goes on.
There is, of course, a logical limit to its development. Some people prefer to have their work conducted between 9am and 5pm. After all, that’s when their friends work, and so their free time will be aligned with that of their peers.
But for the most part, flexible working options are greatly appreciated by staff. Atypical working has enough benefits for employers for this trend to go from strength to strength.
When it comes to your own small business, you’ll need to examine your own capacity to develop this perk for your employees. You need to see if it can be a trend that you follow in your particular line of work.
If you’d like to offer 24/7 support to your customers, then giving people flexible shifts on the phones and email systems will mean you’re covering more time without hiring more staff.
But, on the flip-side, you need to ensure you have enough staff in the office at peak times to deal with high levels of labor when required.
Staff satisfaction would seem one of the principal benefits for any small business enacting flexible working in their company.
The benefits, however, can extend significantly beyond this locus, with increased productivity, increased networking, and increased efficiency all arriving as a result of your staff enjoying new-age and more accommodating schedules for work.
From a business operations point of view, or in the sense of HR, atypical working means you’ll need to hire less staff. This saves on wages to pay back those small business loans you got to bring your company to the position it presently enjoys.
As interest rates for business loans continue to eat away at your profits, it helps to make your staff payment requirements as streamlined and efficient as possible. This frees up capital to pay back commercial loans as quickly as possible.
As with all working styles, atypical working can come with its downsides. You should be aware of these so that you can spot them rapidly.
The earlier you can identify where your atypical working concession is hurting your business, the sooner you will be able to address the lack of productivity that can come as a result of atypical working conditions. Some of the downsides include:
- Employees producing less quality work when working remotely
- Confusion as to who is in the office at what time, which can lead to coordination and logistics issues
- The lack of first aid trained, fire safety, or other required individuals in the office at all times
- The impression in your workforce that you’re a less than strict and reproachful boss
- Employees being unsure as to who will be in the office from day to day
- Some employees resenting the fact that others have a more flexible working routine than they do
Having highlighted the above issues, it’s up to you to reduce the impact of each problem to near zero. You can achieve this – it’s just that atypical working is not yet a standardized procedure, so you’ll have to improvise to some extent.
The best advice here is to keep your typical working structure in place for the most part. Then, slowly and methodically introduce different routines for the staff you want to help the most.
Perhaps atypical working will mostly help those who struggle to balance family and work responsibilities.
Make sure that your staff are aware at all times that they’re valued and that everyone is able to have a conversation with you about constructing a more atypical working week.
Ian is a student of Business at the Honors College at the University of Alabama.
Contact Ian at firstname.lastname@example.org
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