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Flexible working practices

Does working flexibly really make sense in the construction sector? The Equal Opportunties Forum of the ICE thinks so. Here it tackles some common questions

Why should companies consider flexible working?

Flexible working patterns are not widely adopted by the civil engineering industry, yet they provide the chance to enhance the calibre and diversity of personnel attracted to and retained by the profession. Organisations should recognise the flexibility and diversity that imaginative working arrangements can provide.

What is wrong with what we're doing now?

The mindset of 'presenteeism' does not make business sense. Instead effectiveness and efficiency at work should be rewarded. Companies should actively encourage changes in career direction and retraining, since both the company and individual will benefit from a mutually agreed arrangement.

What exactly are flexible working practices?

Various working patterns can be considered. Examples include part time working, flexi-time, career breaks, term time working and compressed hours (more hours in fewer days). Voluntary reduction in time, job sharing and school hour working are also options. Many companies already encourage working from home which can bring efficiency, save travel time and reduce office overheads.

What are the business benefits?

Companies can retain experienced staff and attract a more diverse workforce. Flexible working engenders greater loyalty from employees and often results in less absenteeism and sick leave. Productivity and competitiveness can be increased and the prestige and reputation of the company enhanced.

Who can help?

Advice is available from theEqual Opportunities Commission. The book 'Cracking It' by Josephine Warrior gives great examples of successful flexible working.

What is the Institution doing?

The Institution, through theEqual Opportunities Forum, encourages companies to consider flexible working practices. Alternatives being considered include an annual award to recognise good practice and publication of an industry specific guide on this.

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