Yes, that should be an option for individuals. We know flexibility is important to people, but that flexibility takes many forms, so it is about ensuring organisational objectives are met with individual needs. I think hybrid working is most successful when organisations create systems, processes and most importantly a high trust culture which allows individuals more choice. Working nine-to-five, Monday to Friday, works well for some people, but not for lots of others. Similarly, having the option to work in different spaces for different types of work can help us be more productive and, therefore, achieve more of our objectives. At British Society for Rheumatology (BSR) we measure outcomes and outputs, rather than check how many hours someone is sat at their desk. We always need to make sure that no-one ends up working longer hours because of that flexibility, as staff wellbeing is a strategic priority for us. We are also going to be trialling moving to the equivalent of a 4.5 day week in 2023.
For me, creating and maintaining a high trust environment is key to this. Giving, or even better co-creating, the guidelines or frameworks in which individuals can make these decisions is important. Hybrid working is still quite new for many of us, we spent years commuting into an office every day, and working traditional hours. It is going to take a bit more time before everyone is confident to work in a more flexible way.
When we move to the 4.5 day week trial, we will not be telling everyone what days or hours they need to work. We have created our ways of working together, which ensure that BSR’s mission, values and key performance indicators (KPIs) are met, and this allows every member of staff to make decisions about when, where, and how they work. We know that we can trust our team to meet their objectives, and they always keep our customers and stakeholders at the front of their minds. Offering as much flexibility as we possibly can on hybrid working means a happier, more engaged team, and better organisational outcomes.
Jess Badley is director of people and resources at British Society for Rheumatology.