Wates embraces company-wide flexible working

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Wates, Flexible working

Wates has announced the adoption of company-wide flexible working, as it aims to improve staff wellbeing and productivity

Wates, who employs nearly 4,000 people across the UK, is encouraging colleagues across the business to experiment with different working patterns that improve their working life.

Teams are being encouraged to develop working patterns that consider individual preferences, enabling everyone to perform at their best.

Construction teams at Wates have been piloting the approach, with individuals changing their shift start or end times to accommodate caring responsibilities or other family needs, as well as to allow time for activities such as studying or team sports that promote health and wellbeing.

Some colleagues have asked to take longer lunch breaks or to perform more of their work from home.

All new roles will also be advertised as flexible.

The approach is summarised in a set of Flexible Working Principles, which clarify that flexible working should be for everyone, regardless of where they work; and that it should be achieved in a way that maintains or improves service delivery for customers, as well as being sensitive to the needs and preferences of the wider team.

Wates’ Flexible Working Principles were introduced in response to feedback from staff, which highlighted that almost 90% of colleagues would prefer a mix of home working and office working in the future.

A separate survey of just over 1,000 parents, launched as part of Working Families’ #FlexTheUK campaign, which is supported by Wates Group, showed that parents overwhelmingly want employers to create more flexible jobs (84%), and would consider jobs advertised as flexible more attractive when looking for work in the future (69%).

As well as launching flexible working, Wates has announced that all its non-site offices will operate on a flexible basis, with employees able to book workstations via an online system.

A template for post-pandemic offices

To promote these new ways of working, the Group’s fit-out business, Wates Smartspace, has redesigned the main working area within Wates’ Leatherhead headquarters, creating a colourful and contemporary set of configurable spaces that have been designed specifically to encourage collaboration.

David Allen, chief executive at Wates Group, said: “The pandemic challenged us to work in different ways and to adapt.

“We learned a lot about how to work flexibly, and about how doing so can improve productivity, performance, health and happiness.

“We have listened to feedback from colleagues from across the Group and, as part of launching our Flexible Working Principles, are encouraging them to use the next few months to experiment with their working patterns: to find what works for them; to show us what they want their working life to be like in the future; and to use these new flexibilities to support our goal of becoming the most trusted, sustainable and progressive business in the sector.”

Jane van Zyl, CEO of national work-life balance charity Working Families, added: “Wates’ Flexible Working Principles, and the culture change they are ushering in, is an extremely positive and inspiring thing to see.

“We know that for too long flexible working has been seen as the preserve of office workers, but this shows that flex is possible in roles whether you’re sat at a desk or working on site.

“It’s why we were so pleased to partner with Wates on our recent #FlexTheUK campaign: we want to show that whether it’s flexing hours, working pattern or location, flexible, family-friendly working practices don’t just bring huge benefits for employees – they make sound business sense too.”

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