International law firm Eversheds has a strategic commitment to being a great place to work. All staff already have the right to request formal flexible working. Eversheds has a significant number of women at entry level, but fewer female partners. The firm’s commitment to flexibility is driven by the importance of female retention and work life balance.
Over 400 employees (13.5%) across the UK and internationally were already working part time, but the firm was aware that for many their need was for informal and short-term flexibility rather than formal contractual change. FlexAble encourages staff to run changes by their managers on an ad hoc and informal basis.
The first of two scheme pilots encouraged 150 lawyers and support staff in one office to work flexibly. Options included home working, flexible hours, changing start and finish times and working from different offices or client offices. Cutting edge technology and IT support enables mobile and remote working.
FlexAble was communicated via brochures in participating offices and to all members of staff via the firm’s intranet. A dedicated page on the intranet has Q&As, a message board and information about the technology available to enable remote working. During the pilot there were regular surgeries with HR colleagues to discuss progress and feedback surveys were circulated to obtain immediate feedback.
Following the first main pilot it was found that productivity in that office had improved 5% over the same time the previous year and was higher than non-participating offices. The number of people working flexibly nearly doubled from 48% to 91%.