Is flexible working the future?

Sitting at a desk in an office from 9 to 5 is no longer the default; the face of the global workforce is changing and with it are its needs. This highly skilled, flexible-working trend has employer repercussions… make sure your company embraces the demand for flexible working and reaps the rewards.

Employers may find that their staff start to look for jobs elsewhere if they don’t offer them a position with the right work-life balance.  Here we will look at the facts, the benefits, the legislation and the challenges….

The facts:

  • Only 6% of working Britons now work 9 to 5 (YouGov)
  • 73% work either part-time or with some form of flexible working arrangement (Deloitte and Timewise)
  • 75% of UK employees want the option of working flexibly (Powwownow)
  • Requests from employees for more flexible working have increased dramatically over the last two years and will continue to rise in 2019 (XperHR)
  • 80% of employers are prepared to consider requests to work flexibly (XpertHR)
  • 6,600 people search the term ‘flexible working’ every month in the UK (Google)

The benefits:

Companies who have implemented agile strategies have reported increased company profits, improved productivity, positively impacted company reputation and improved staff morale. Remote working improves work-life balance and leads to healthier, happier and more productive employees.

Last summer, some of the UK’s biggest companies signed up to the Agile Future Forum (AFF), a commitment to flexible working after finding that ‘agility’ in staff hours and locations can cut workforce costs by as much as 13%.

The law

Legislation in the UK states that after six months in a job, every employee has the right to request flexible working. Although companies aren’t obliged to grant this request, they are obliged to consider it “in a reasonable manner”.

The challenges (and the solution we’d recommend)

The main challenge will be to convince leaders with long-held beliefs that flexible working will lead to employees exploiting their freedom, leading to a drop in productivity. (Set a trial within your company and measure the impact; keep the talks transparent so both sides of the table have their fears and wishes out in the open).

The rise of generation Z can also be a challenge, as they tend to be extremely digitally focussed and live in a very connected world, where the distinction between work and social life becomes blurred.  This may well clash with more reserved older workers. (This one is all about communication and ensuring there is a good crossover of Gen Z and the older workers in your company).

For companies seeking to acquire top talent, another key challenge is that today’s workers are reporting that it’s not just salary which makes a difference. Helping workers to achieve greater personal happiness and work:life balance may well be the biggest driver in staff retention for any sized company. (The more you can embrace flexibility, the more attractive your company will be to future workers.)

Looking to the future, it’s not just good business sense that’s driving acceptance of this new flexible way of working. By 2030, one in five UK workers will be mums, 25% of all families will be single-parent families and up to 10 million people will have carer responsibilities as the population continues to age. Those are stark forecasts that indicate flexible working may become the only way that will ensure the work gets done.