Over the next few weeks, we will most likely see a rise in remote working. Whilst the topic is at the forefront of discussion in the sector, we look at how it will impact charity operations in the years to come.
Tech advances have made flexible working attractive to charity employees and, as recent events such as the coronavirus outbreak have highlighted, a practical reality for business continuity plans. For charity digital leaders thinking to implement or enhance plans, mobilisation of your workforce can come with many advantages.
Flexible working attracts more talent
“Quality flexible working can help organisations attract talent, improve employee job satisfaction and loyalty, reduce absenteeism, and improve well-being; it can also make businesses more responsive to change,” according to the professional body the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.
Charity digital leaders thinking of taking up flexible working in practice have many options, but understanding the basics is key. Flexible working arrangements come in a range of different forms, but in general, means employees don’t necessarily work standard hours. For many charities, flexible working can mean early or later start and finish times; working from home; part-time hours; working in shared spaces; logging on during holidays or weekends; and job shares. Empowerment is fundamental – allowing staff to manage their own work/life balance.
There is a growing body of evidence supporting the benefits that flexible working can bring to charities. Nicknamed the ‘Nudge Unit’, the UK Cabinet Office Behavioural Insight Team’s research concluded that flexible working can improve gender equality in the workplace by levelling the playing field – women, empowered to work when they are able, can juggle family obligations. The relationship isn’t one-sided either – charities can also benefit.
"There are also clear benefits to employers - offering flexible working to employees creates a stronger, loyal and more diverse workforce, which pays dividends," said Ella Smillie, Head of Policy and Campaigns for the Fawcett Society, a London-based equality charity.
Charity tech for working from elsewhere
Calls for flexible working policies in the charitable sector and beyond will only get louder in the future, given the benefits to both staff and charity employers. Tech advances can help leaders implement policies at relatively low-cost:
Flexible working as part of business continuity
Remote and flexible working should also be a core part of digital IT policy and business continuity planning. While global events have brought to the fore the importance of being flexible, planning for business disruption should be part of every charity digital leader’s plan.
Successful charity digital business continuity plans (BCP) consider back-up IT plans. IBM offers good advice:
What can we expect ahead?
Recruitment firms have made a powerful case. CharityJobs, a well-recognised recruitment firm and website has taken a look at some of the flexible working charity champions. National Trust’s policy on flexible working is helping to ‘future-proof’ its workforce. CharityJobs said that the National Trust’s approach to doing ‘everything we can to help you find a healthy work-life balance’ means that employees may be better able to keep pace with their jobs no matter their personal circumstances.
Zoe Amar, Charity Digital Trustee, also notes that charities need to engage with their staff to gauge the level of flexibility needed at present, and into the future.
“If your charity really wants to change the way it works for the better, you need to collaborate with staff to define what the change looks like and encourage them to own it.”
- Zoe Amar