There’s been plenty of debate over the last several years about the pros and cons of flexible hours for workers. But whether businesses think it is a positive or a negative, it’s a concept that is becoming more commonplace in workplaces around the world.
In fact, the U.K. enacted a new law that allows workers to request flexible hours. The law states that any employee who has been with a company for at least 26 weeks has the right to request a flexible working arrangement. The employer must then deal with the request in a reasonable manner. This means they should allow the employee to state their case and offer an appeal if applicable. However, they can still deny the request if they have a good business reason for doing so.
Previously, only parents and other caregivers had the legal right to request flexible working hours from their employers.
But the recent changes have already made an impact on the UK’s working landscape. According to a survey by conference calling service PowWowNow, 8 percent of UK workers submitted a flexible working request to their employer within a week of the law being enacted. And another 11 percent have said they definitely plan to do so. The survey also found roughly 35 percent of those surveyed said they might consider requesting flexible work hours at some point.
These numbers aren’t exactly shocking — even here in the U.S. In fact, way back in 2011, Small Business Trends staff writer Rieva Lesonsky reported:
“….slew of data indicating that working remotely is no longer a rarity, but becoming commonplace, you can add the latest Work Without Walls findings from Microsoft. Microsoft’s research shows that enabling employees to work remotely is fast becoming not a perk, but a business imperative.”
Still, some employers have continued to worry about the impact on their businesses of a more flexible work schedule. Citing data, again from the UK, in 2013 David Wallace reported that:
- 56 percent of employers feared productivity would decline.
- 40 percent worried about the blurring of work and home boundaries.
- And 50 percent expressed concern that teamwork would suffer.
By contrast, employees have a completely different perspective. According to the data:
- 75 percent of employees felt it would increase job satisfaction.
- 72 percent said more flexible hours directly impacted work/life balance.
- And 54 percent said it would make them more productive.
In the end, however, employer concerns may be unwarranted. As Lesonsky reports:
“The 2012 National Study of Employers, released by the Families and Work Institute (FWI) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), found that U.S. employers are offering employees more options for managing when and where they work. The tradeoff for the employees, however, is that employers offering more flexibility are also requiring them to essentially work more.”
So, even if you do consider giving your employees more flexibility in their work schedules, be sure you don’t end up burning your employees out by making them work much more in the process, Lesonsky suggests.
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Encouraging referrals is the best way to grow your business. However, as a new entrepreneur, to obtain referrals you have to have clients. Getting that first client can be one of the biggest challenges in getting your business off the ground. Fortunately, there are things you can do to entice new clients into hiring you.
Your Former Employer
Get hired by your former boss. While this doesn’t work in all cases, many small businesses get their start by turning their former employer into a client.
The advantage for you is that your boss knows the quality of your work. And if it was good, he/she should be willing to hire you. The advantage to your former boss is that often, hiring a contractor is less expensive than hiring an employee.
Engage your network. Tell everyone you know about your business. While your friends, family and former colleagues may not need your service, they may know people who do and be willing to refer you.
Untapped Local and Online Networks
Get involved in local and online business networks. When done right, with the attitude of helping others and delivering value, meeting people in your business community and through online networks such as LinkedIn can get your business in front of people who will hire or refer you.
Collaborate with other businesses. If there is another industry that can collaborate with yours, make connections for the purpose of mutually beneficial referrals.
For example, if you’re a wedding photographer, connect with caterers and bands that also work weddings. If you’re a copywriter, connect with graphic designers, web designers and printers.
Flex Your Writing Skills
Write for trade or association publications. Having your article appear where potential clients will read it increases your exposure and credibility. For example, if you’re a virtual assistant for Realtors, write a piece for the local real estate association newsletter.
Show Your Expertise Through Speaking and Training
Speak or do training sessions. Showing off what you know as an expert is a great way to build credibility and garner new clients. Find organizations that target your market and offer to do training sessions.
For example, if you’re a copywriter, offer to do a program on writing great sales copy for your local Chamber of Commerce. Many who attend the session will decide they’d rather hire someone (you) than do it themselves. Plus, you can get paid for speaking, adding another revenue source.
Republished by permission. Original here.
Stone Photo via Shutterstock
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