BAM introduces flexible working after trial

BAM Construct UK will introduce new company-wide flexible working policies including remote working, staggered start and finish times, and flexible breaks, following a trial on its sites.

Four companies began the in-site trials in 2019, prior to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, with independent consultancy Timewise. BAM’s are the first results to emergy.

Among the measures BAM is promoting for all its people are:

  • Remote working
  • Rota working
  • Staggered start and end times
  • Flexible lunch or break times
  • Job sharing
  • Part time work
  • Phased retirements
  • Remote learning and meetings
  • Shared team calendars
  • Defined times for teams being in the same place for collaboration
  • A mix of formal and informal measures depending on whether these have implications for the terms and conditions of a job.

The new policies come with financial support to help its people with equipment needs.

BAM said the new flexible working policy would provide a better work-life balance for its people and could potentially open up construction as a career to hundreds of thousands of people from more varied backgrounds than has traditionally been the case.

And it added that they could produce better performance and mental health, and reduce business costs if less space is needed.

BAM Construct UK’s executive and HR director Andrea Singh said: “There has been a shift in mindset across our business. We believe that every role can have some flexibility, but not every role can have the same flexibility.

“Our default position now is that flexibility is possible and desirable, and to prioritise a devolved, team-based decision-making culture to empower it so that it continues to support our business objectives.

“We now ask, ‘how can we make flexibility work?’ not, ‘can we make it work?’ We’ve provided a framework for our teams without lots of rules and hurdles. Managers can find flexible working approaches that work for their team, their clients and their job.”

‘Far more productive’

Ruth Hutchinson, a site administrator for several BAM schemes in Wales, who took part in the trial, said: “I am a carer for both of my parents who have mental health and physical health needs. My father has severe Alzheimer’s and is also paralyzed down the right side after a back operation and my mother had a stroke and has since developed dementia.  I have to give them a lot of home help. I was going home exhausted every night.

“When this new policy took effect, after discussions with my team and line managers, I am now able to work three days a week from home where I have become far more productive in my role.

“What changed for me was the willingness of my team and managers to re-examine my role, to look again at the support I can provide for the business, and the extent to which my time is genuinely required on site.

“I could demonstrate I was more productive because of the greater flexibility. Not only has it improved my work, it has also given my parents much needed extra support and it meant my own mental health and stress levels have improved dramatically.”

Home working ‘only one aspect’ of flexible working

Despite the rise in the practice of home working during the coronavirus lockdowns, Singh said it was only one aspect of flexible working. She said: “We must not see it as the only ‘new normal’, because that true flexibility means so much more than being at home for some people, as well as the fact that not everybody can work from home.”

“Flexibility can include broader things like staggered start or finish times, the opportunity to work at a different location, split shifts, job share, and more.”

BAM has developed the new flexible working approach over 12 months, working jointly with independent flexible working specialists Timewise and industry body Build UK.

Angela Goldsmith, consultant with Timewise, said: “The perfect balance for flexibility is where there is a meeting of what works for the business and what works for the individual. One of the best ways to achieve this is by exploring a team-based approach to flexible working.

“The best way to create a truly flexible team culture is to have an open and honest conversation at a team level about what is and is not possible.

“This builds the foundation for a further team discussion about where, when and how much how individuals like to work. When are they at their best? How best can they juggle non-work priorities alongside the work that needs to be done? How do different roles interact? How can business priorities still be achieved? When the team come up with the solutions, they own them and make them work. It’s pleasing to see that BAM have taken this approach in their new policy and we hope this will bring great results for the business and their people.”

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  1. This news is groundbreaking for the building industry and also beyond to other fields in the world of work, particularly manual occupations in general, which will change the way we look at a life in those fields.

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