Glossary of flexible working terms

Flexible working - Any non-standard working pattern that results in a change in the time or place in which work is done. Examples can include teleworking, working at a home office or in a garden office, mobile working or telecottaging, as well as flexible hours, compressed hours, job sharing, term-time hours and annualised hours.

Flexible working agreement - An agreement that an employee will sign up to that will cover things like variations in terms & conditions and hours of work, when flexible working Often used instead of amending contracts.

Flexible working policy - Document covering a business's arrangement for things like travel expenses, costs of remote internet access etc. Can be combined with the flexible working agreement.

Lone working - Any work activity which is carried out in isolation from other workers by an individual. The lone worker would normally carry out lone working for some time.

Outputs - In flexible working management terms, this refers to the outputs an employee produces for the business. Ideally these should be measurable in some way, and show improving employee productivity Examples include number of calls made or amount of billed hours. Management by output is a management technique which focuses on the flexible working employee's outputs rather than their inputs or time served.

Productivity - The relationship between production of an output and one, some, or all of the resource inputs used in accomplishing the assigned task. In the case of say a window cleaner a simple output measure might be the number of windows cleaned and the resource would be time. So productivity would be number of windows cleaned per hour. Of course in practice size of windows and distance travelled would perhaps be included in the outputs and amount of water/soap used might be included in the resources! Flexible working tends to result in increasing productivity.

Remote working - When an employee is working away from their normal location and has remote internet access.

Video-conferencing - Video communications now have something for everyone - from widely used solutions, like Skype and Apple's Face Time, to life-sized high resolution video-conferencing suites. You will have less need to travel for business meetings and the time and money saved will help your bottom line.

VPN (Virtual Private Network) - A way of using the internet to provide remote computer access to an organisation's network. A VPN maintains privacy through security procedures and by encrypting data at the sending end and decrypting them at the receiving end. The data travel through a 'tunnel' that cannot be 'entered' by data that are not properly encrypted. An additional level of security involves encrypting the originating and receiving network addresses, as well as the data. This gives employees remote access to files on your network so they can work from home through a remote connection as easily as they do from the office.

Teleworking - Is the use of telecommunications to replace work related travel. It encompasses the use of telecommunications to enable working from home as well as the use of technology such as Voice over IP (VoIP) and Videoconferencing to eliminate other work related travel such as travelling to meetings.

Terminal Services - This is an advancement to a Virtual Private Network (VPN), where the software application being used runs on a remote server and the person just sees a screen image of what is running remotely. This allows quicker access to work and processing at speeds exactly as if working in the office.

Work life balance (WLB) - Work life balance is about people having a measure of control over when, where and how they work. It is achieved when an individual's right to a fulfilled life inside and outside paid work is accepted and respected as the norm, to the mutual benefit of the individual, business and society.

Working at home - Where the employee is normally based at their employers office premises, but as a temporary arrangement they are working at their home.

Working from home - Where the employees 'office' is based at their home and they have a home office or garden office

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