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Dynamic working

September 2018

At Barclays, we have put in place a number of initiatives to create a diverse and inclusive workplace. Dynamic working is the flagship initiative of our multigenerational agenda, looking at flexible working arrangements for our colleagues.

In this article, Mark McLane, Head of Global Diversity and Inclusion, shares the benefits, challenges and implementation steps for those considering dynamic working in their organisation.

What is dynamic working?

At Barclays, we understand that our colleagues are at various stages of their lives, so we wanted to bring in a different way of thinking about and approaching work arrangements to suit the real-life needs of colleagues and stakeholders alike, and foster the optimal work/life culture.

Dynamic working (DW) is the name we’ve given to the flexible working model we adopted across the organisation in 2015. Our aim is to promote a high-performance, high-trust culture, focusing on people’s performance in the workplace, rather than the hours spent in the office. Essentially, dynamic working is all about giving colleagues the adaptability to integrate their professional and personal lives while also promoting wellbeing, diversity and inclusion.

Benefits of DW:

We’ve already seen a number of benefits in our business, which I’d summarise into eight key areas.

  1. Increased productivity: Flexible working has the potential to add £11.5bn to the UK economy every year through the more productive use of working hours1. UK commuters spend over half a billion hours travelling to and from work every year, which could be made more efficient by working dynamically from home1
  2. Benefits employees financially: Currently, 14% of UK worker’s income is spent on rail fares2; through agile working, UK workers could save £3.8bn in reduced commuting costs1
  3. Boosts recruitment: Businesses compete for an increasingly diverse talent pool, trying to attract talent from different backgrounds and generations. The concept of flexible working has a broad appeal where 60% of employers say it is vital in order to stay competitive3
  4. Supports staff retention: DW is useful in retaining key talent as it allows workers to adapt when there is significant change in their lives. In a 2017 Barclays colleague survey, 79% of Barclays employees who work dynamically stated they feel a strong sense of belonging with the company4
  5. Improves morale: Colleagues who work dynamically score higher for enthusiasm and job satisfaction, where 87% stated that they would recommend Barclays as a good place to work4. In another survey of 1,000 employees, 70% recalled that flexible working significantly helped improve company morale3
  6. Improves accountability: DW empowers colleagues to manage their own workload, which in turn helps increase their sense of ownership and accountability. In addition, remote working adapts to different working styles – 82% stated that they are more productive when working flexibly3
  7. Supports inclusivity: Whilst viewed as a benefit for certain groups – for example working mothers – employees who work dynamically can sometimes feel marginalised. However, by adopting DW, it levels the playing field and removes gender bias from our culture5
  8. Helps us better serve our clients: With clients and colleagues across the globe, living and working in different time zones, DW can provide extended cover as colleagues choose to work outside normal office hours.

Challenges of DW:

It’s unrealistic to say that introducing dynamic working has solved all our problems, so whilst there are numerous advantages with DW, there have been a number of challenges identified since launching the campaign, which are important to understand when considering implementing in a business – a culture change at the scale of what we have achieved in our organisation does not come without its challenges.

One of our initial challenges was demonstrating that dynamic working was as beneficial for the business as it was for our colleagues – we were investing in dynamic working because it led to greater engagement and a sense of belonging with the organisation, leading to greater productivity and efficiency. Our colleague engagement survey helped to outline the tangible benefits of dynamic working, with anecdotal evidence demonstrating that having the opportunity to design one’s own work patterns led to greater client centricity and better client servicing.

The other challenge was the perception of flexible working itself. The origin of the campaign was to debunk the myth that flexibility is a needed by a new mum coming back from maternity leave and looking to work part time. Our aim was to create a workplace culture where flexibility is embedded as a way of working and available to all colleagues, where it works for their role.

Technology is the other key factor. If a colleague is working away from the office, the right technology infrastructure can support a successful execution. For us, technology transformation and dynamic working have gone hand in hand!

Tips for success

Here are my tips for success in order to promote a successful dynamic working environment:

  1. Empower and equip managers: Companies need to influence their leadership to create a more inclusive and flexible working culture. Managers will be the biggest assets when implementing DW as they are the ones who make decisions about working dynamically. Therefore, providing them with the tools to empower them and break the norms of the 9-5 work culture will help drive success
  2. Bust the myths: As mentioned previously, there were many misconceptions around DW. The biggest we faced was that only mothers need a flexible working arrangement and that working from home doesn’t give enough face time in the office. By tackling these myths, it will help employees to have the confidence to work flexibly and better balance their work/personal commitments
  3. Help everyone see just how good it is for the business: We collated and shared data proving the effectiveness of DW as a smart business decision. This data improved awareness, confidence and uptake, driving a clear and consistent message that dynamic working encouraged and emphasised by leadership.

DW is an agile, future-facing initiative to manage a work culture that helps empower colleagues and creates a more inclusive, transparent and efficient workplace. I encourage you to take the first steps on your dynamic working journey!

1Centre for Economics and Business Research, The productive value of the untapped workforce: A study into the potential economic impacts of a flexible working culture, November 2014
2Action for Rail, UK commuters spend up to 6 times as much of their salary on rail fares as other European passengers, January 2017
3Powownow, Ultimate Guide to Flexible Working for Employers, March 2016
4Barclays, Your View Survey 2017
5Dynamic Working, how do you work your life? February 2018.