So it’s all over. The stadium doors are closed, the competitors are heading home and the talk has turned to how we can ensure the Olympic legacy lives on.

Sports clubs up and down the country have already reported a surge of interest from aspiring athletes, while volunteering has also had a major boost with record numbers signing up to support good causes over the last two weeks. It will be interesting to see, however, if any work-related lessons will live on beyond London 2012.

There was much talk prior to the Games about the need for businesses to take a more flexible approach to work. UK plc was encouraged to sidestep the predicted travel disruption by letting staff work staggered hours or base themselves from home for the duration of the Olympics.

In the event, the dire warnings meant many people avoided London like the plague and those who did attempt to make it into work as normal often had easier journeys than usual. But it will be fascinating to find out how many of the companies who did experiment with flexible working will have seen the benefits it can bring and will be open to making it an integral part of the way they run their operations in the future.

SMEs – particularly those employing knowledge workers – can benefit enormously from flexible working. It allows the business to attract and retain talented staff and in many cases can enhance the service they offer to customers and clients. Taking the widest possible view of all the different flexible working options can help the business maximise these benefits. The list below will help you see the numerous ways you can slice and dice working arrangements so that they work to commercial as well as personal advantage.

  • Part time weeks (e.g. 3 days per week)
  • Part time days (e.g. 9am-3pm 5 days per week)
  • Nine day fortnight (e.g. working a full 9 days instead of 10 over a fortnight)
  • Condensed hours (e.g. full time hours condensed into 3 or 4 days)
  • Staggered hours (e.g. full time hours over different times i.e. 7am-3pm or 11am-7pm)
  • Term time working (e.g. normal hours with school holidays off)
  • School hours working (e.g. work during school hours)
  • Short/medium term contracts (e.g. to cover specific projects or roles)
  • Annual hours (e.g. an agreed amount of hours that must be completed within a year)
  • Job sharing (e.g. usually two people share one full time job)
  • Flexi-time (e.g. employee can choose when to work agreed hours)
  • Working from home (e.g. some or all of the role can be worked from home)
  • Adaptable/accommodating working (e.g. full time hours but with flexibility in certain areas as determined by candidate, i.e. ability to leave office to pick up kids from school but then return to work)
  • Zero/reduced travel (e.g. full time working but employees save many hours per week on reduced commuting by working locally)

Source: Ten2Two

Of course there are a whole host of other issues to consider when implementing flexible working – laying the groundwork properly, ensuring legislative requirements are met and fulfilling health and safety obligations to name just a few. The ACAS website has some great advice on how to handle the practicalities appropriately, while our flexible working fact sheet provides some best practice tips on how to successfully introduce a flexible worker.

Good luck with your efforts to take a more flexible approach – and read more about our absence management software.

Erika Lucas author image

Erika Lucas

Writer and Communications Consultant

Erika Lucas is a writer and communications consultant with a special interest in HR, leadership, management and personal development. Her career has spanned journalism and PR, with previous roles in regional press, BBC Radio, PR consultancy, charities and business schools.