Jon Tricker, Managing Director of KPMG Gibraltar, considers how flexible working can support staff and the delivery of a quality service
It used to be the case that virtually everyone in an office environment worked Monday to Friday, 9am to 5.30pm, and in some cases, much beyond, as a matter of custom and convention. Over recent years, the advent of flexible working arrangements has challenged this norm but has also frequently met with resistance from employers who are concerned on the potential impact of service levels.
Flexible working arrangements can be a win/win situation for employees and businesses alike. While the most obvious benefit is in enabling staff to more easily manage personal commitments such as childcare and study, a flexible approach to hours can also help organisations deal more efficiently with peaks and dips in business.
An even bigger gain can be in productivity. Traditionally, and especially in the audit and accountancy world, working long hours has often been viewed as a necessary sign of dedication and commitment – and often believed to be almost compulsory for onwards promotion. But, realistically, it’s simply not possible to be fully productive across a regular 12 or 14 hour day.
If, on the other hand, you can construct a working arrangement that addresses personal priorities but may wander outside the regular normal daily routine, the chances are your employee will be much more motivated and productive in the hours that really suits them.
But while the value of a healthy work/life balance for all employees is no longer a matter of dispute, it can still be quite difficult to accomplish in jobs where client demands may dictate a pressing deadline or all hands on deck approach.
As a client-led organisation, as well as a responsible employer, KPMG Gibraltar is currently looking at how flexible working can be incorporated into our practice. Our staff are our biggest asset and they are trusted to provide a high quality service to our clients. They also know only too well that our clients have high expectations and that sometimes the nature of our work means longer hours at certain times of the year.
So we need to find a framework that will work for both our employees and our business – whether that is working from home, split hours or some other arrangement where it is appropriate. The key to making any flexible arrangement work will be to have a clear mutual understanding from the outset and a shared goal to deliver the best possible service for our clients.
In common with other KPMG practices, we have a consultation underway and look forward to seeing what suggestions come forward. Technology and social changes have made the modern office a very different workplace to what it was a generation ago and it is important that as an employer we continue to evolve and adapt, both for the benefit of our employees and our clients.