How to make a successful flexible working request with HR software 



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8 mins

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Over the past few years, the way we work has undergone a remarkable transformation, with flexible working arrangements becoming the norm for many organisations. According to a 2022 survey by CBI Economics, 60% of respondents expected remote working and flexible hours to increase in the next two years. Not only that, 87% of line managers had already become more flexible about how and when employees chose to schedule their working hours. However, navigating the process of requesting and managing flexible work arrangements can still be a daunting task – but it needn’t be. 

This is where the power of HR software comes into play. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the intricacies of making a successful flexible working request and explore how cutting-edge online HR systems can streamline and enhance this process, ultimately fostering a more empowered and harmonious work environment for both employees and employers. 

How to make a successful flexible working request 

 When it comes to requesting flexible work arrangements, whether for a specific time period or on an indefinite basis, HR software can help you through the process – step by step. 

Before you begin, though, you will need to decide which type of flexible working is right for you (from flexitime and job sharing to working from home and compressed hours, lists eight common options for flexible working arrangements). 

Here are the steps to making a successful flexible working request: 

1. Review your organisation’s flexible working policy 

To initiate a successful request, start by accessing your organisation's HR software platform to find your employer’s flexible working policy. This should provide valuable insights into the available options and procedures. Often, you'll find request forms conveniently embedded within the HR system, streamlining the submission process as you provide all the necessary information. 

2. Talk to your line manager 

Before you submit a formal request, it’s a good idea to have an initial meeting with your line manager to let them know you are considering asking to work flexibly. This will help you test the waters, and gauge your manager’s reaction. Ideally they will be supportive from the start. However, if they flag concerns, this will allow you to address these blockers and suggest solutions in your formal request.

3. Submit the request 

Now it’s time to submit your request through your organisation’s HR software. Make sure you present a well-structured proposal supported by evidence. This strategic approach can significantly improve the likelihood of your flexible working request being approved. 

4. Negotiate if necessary 

Anticipate negotiations may need to take point throughout this process. While you should start off by requesting your ideal flexible working set up, approval may not be feasible. Be prepared to counterargue objections or compromise if necessary so you can find a solution that fits both you and your organisation. 

Tips to ensure a successful flexible working request 

Our own people team recommends doing the following to ensure your flexible working request is approved: 

  • Gather information that highlights the benefits of flexible work, not just for you but for the team and the organisation as a whole 
  • Analyse your workload and outline how you plan to manage tasks effectively while working flexibly 
  • Showcase instances where others in similar roles have successfully embraced flexible arrangements with minimal disruptions, emphasising the positive outcomes 
  • Propose a trial period to demonstrate the viability of your proposal and address any concerns 
  • Use your HR software to maintain transparent communication throughout the process, engaging in open discussions with your manager or HR team to address any queries or hesitations 

How many flexible working requests can I make?  

As an employee considering flexible work arrangements, it's important to be aware of the current guidelines surrounding the frequency of your requests. At the time of writing, all employees in the UK are allowed to make one flexible working request per year if they’ve worked continuously for the same employer for at least 26 weeks. To confirm the specifics that apply to your situation, it's advisable to consult your organisation's flexible working policy and process, which may be accessible through your HR software. 

It's worth mentioning that a significant change is on the horizon. The introduction of the Flexible Working Bill, anticipated to come into full force sometime in 2024, will bring about a slight adjustment to the existing regulations. Under this upcoming legislation, employees will have the opportunity to submit up to two statutory requests for flexible working within any 12-month period. This change reflects a growing recognition of the importance of work-life balance and acknowledges the diverse needs of modern employees. 

How can flexible working benefit employers?  

Embracing flexible working isn't just an employee-centric decision – it's a strategic move that can bring a multitude of benefits to employers as well. One of the most significant advantages lies in improved employee retention. By accommodating diverse work arrangements, employers demonstrate a commitment to work-life balance and foster a sense of loyalty and appreciation among their workforce. This, in turn, reduces turnover rates and the associated costs of recruiting, onboarding and training new staff. 

Flexible work options also enhance productivity because employees can tailor their schedules to their most productive hours, leading to higher quality output and increased efficiency. This is backed up by a survey from Gartner, in which 43% of respondents said they were more productive because of this arrangement (with 30% mentioning less or no commuting time positively impacted their productivity levels). 

Moreover, the expanded pool of potential candidates that flexible working attracts can lead to more successful recruitment efforts, ensuring that employers have access to a wider range of talent to drive their business forward. Flexible working can also bolster diversity, equality and inclusion efforts, such as aiding in the progression of women to senior roles and promoting flexibility for working dads, people who have caregiving responsibilities and those who just want a different work-life balance.  

HR software can help ensure that teams remain cohesive and connected regardless of varying schedules. This not only eases the burden on employers and line managers but also reinforces a sense of unity and collaboration among employees, contributing to a more harmonious and productive work environment. 

How HR software can help organisations support flexible workers  

HR systems play an important role in cultivating strong and effective relationships between organisations and employees who work flexibly. The dynamic nature of flexible working arrangements requires a proactive approach to performance management; HR software can enable consistent and real-time feedback mechanisms. Managers can engage in regular check-ins, set goals, and monitor progress through the platform, fostering a sense of accountability and collaboration regardless of physical presence. 

Furthermore, HR software ensures that remote employees remain seamlessly connected to training opportunities via learning management systems (LMS) and eLearning courses, enabling them to upskill and develop professionally, just as their on-site counterparts would. 

Are you a manager looking for eLearning content to help you navigate the world of running remote and/or hybrid teams? We offer a course as part of our management eLearning pack that will help you with communication, leadership and productivity.

They can also access a library of documentation, policies and resources no matter where they are, ensuring that remote employees have the information they need to make flexible working requests and understand the parameters of flexible working within their organisation. 

Using HR software to formalise flexible working requests and outcomes 

Using HR software, such as ours, with in-built case management functionality makes the whole process of submitting and managing formal flexible working requests more organised and transparent. This feature provides a structured platform for employees to submit their requests, which are then tracked, assessed and processed consistently.  

Beyond just expediting requests and reducing admin time, the case management system proves invaluable for organisations seeking an auditable history of flexible working requests and outcomes. The digital trail ensures accountability, compliance and transparency, serving as a reference point in case of future enquiries or legal considerations. 

See how we can help you engage your flexible workers  

By embracing the possibilities of flexible working, organisations can unlock a realm of benefits – from enhanced retention rates and amplified productivity to a more inclusive and innovative work culture. HR software can be a game-changer, streamlining processes, fostering seamless communication and ensuring that teams remain cohesive even in the face of varying schedules. 

We would love to show you how our HR software can revolutionise your organisation's approach to supporting and engaging with flexible workers. Book a personalised demo or download our comprehensive brochure today to embark on a transformative journey towards a more empowered, harmonious and adaptable work environment. Your future of flexible work excellence awaits – let us guide you there. 

Still looking to learn more about flexible working before you book a demo? Read our blog post, which answers everything from ‘What is flexible working?’ to its advantages and disadvantages.