Procurement · 5 September 2018

Would you let your staff choose their own hours?

Could promoting flexible working hour draw in more talent to your business?

Following the recent news of accountancy giant PwC enabling new workers to choose their own hours, we asked small business owners whether or not they would do the same.

PwC has begun to allow people to list their skills and preferred work pattern when they apply, the corporate giant says the aim is to attract skilled people who don’t want to be tied to traditional 9-to-5 hours.

Flexible working patterns can include anything from shorter weekly working hours to only working for a few months a year.

A recent survey showed that when asked to select their preferred working hours, 39% of workers say they would choose earlier hours of 7am to get started, as they believe they earlier they start they would be more productive (Fuze).

Natasha Pritchard, the owner of florist Ferris Heart Sloane, is a big advocate of staff being able to choose their own hours. 

Pritchard said: “I’m a big believer that this improves the quality of their work, their enthusiasm to do it and really enables them to do their best work knowing they can fit it around their personal commitments which include family time, caring for a family member and studying floristry. 

“As a corporate marketer by trade I’ve long believed if you give your employees trust and a good degree of autonomy you’ll get the best from them. It’s something my bosses have all allowed me from companies which include Ernst & Young when I was fresh out of university to more recently at MiTAC Corporation and Opia.”

39% of workers would also change their hours to fit around their lifestyles/hobbies, while 36% would change their hours to avoid commuting.

In line with this, over a quarter would also change their hours to work around family responsibilities.

Anne Cantelo, managing director of Onyx, a business communications consultancy, also agrees.

Since beginning to give staff the autonomy to choose their structure Cantelo believes the business has reaped multiple benefits.

Cantelo said: “Productivity has shot up and costs have plummeted since we’ve done this. We’ve also found recruitment much easier. As a small company we really struggled to find good people, now that we’ve built up a reputation for completely agile working, I get sent amazing CVs every day. People are queuing up to work for us. 

However, Cantelo does acknowledge that there can be some setbacks to this.

“My biggest challenge, as owner, is that so many of the business support services aren’t set up for this way of working,” added Cantelo.

From an employee’s perspective, Tom Bourlet has recently started working as a marketing manager for beauty brand Procoal. He said that his boss and managing director of Procoal, Yousaf Sekander, has given him generous leeway in regards to his working hours.

Bourlet said: “Yousaf very much stated I could pick the number of hours I felt would work best for myself and would be required for the role.

“Last Tuesday I was speaking about how I had to clean the house before my landlord visited, Yousaf overheard and told me to go home and make up the time another day or simply list the lower hours if this was easier for me.

I then felt motivated to work in the evening, so I sent him a message asking if I could make up the time that evening from home and he was fine with it.”

Commenting on this, PwC’s chief people officer, Laura Hinton, said: “People assume that to work at a big firm they need to follow traditional working patterns – we want to make it clear that this isn’t the case. In order to recruit the best people, we recognise that we need to offer greater flexibility, different working options, and a route back in for those looking to restart their careers.

“We’re likely to see a rise in people transitioning in and out of work throughout their careers and those organisations who responsibly support their people to do this will ultimately gain a competitive advantage.”

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Carly Hacon is a reporter for Business Advice. She has a BA in journalism from Kingston University, and has previously worked as a features editor for a local newspaper.