Are attitudes in the UK shifting towards permanent flexible working?

Our 2020 flexible working survey conducted in January found over two-thirds (67 per cent) of UK employees are currently not offered flexible working in their role, but wish it was available to them. It was surprising to see this reflected by UK businesses. Despite the demand from workers, our survey found that 40 per cent of workers are still not offered flexible working as part of their company’s policies. This showed an increase from last year where a third of UK employees were not offered flexible working.

The state of work today

Due to Coronavirus we’ve seen flexible working transform from something offered as a perk to a necessity. Workers have dispelled the myth that flexible working results in lower productivity, in fact we’ve seen the opposite. We found that 62 per cent of decision makers said productivity has increased at their company since lockdown. As well as this, investments in tech means that 72 per cent now believe they can adequately support their remote working staff. And, last but certainly not least, 70 per cent said they would increase the amount of flexibility their workforce has when they return to the office.

This shows companies are starting to realise flexible working doesn’t mean people will just doss around and there’s hope that more companies will adopt this way of working and they’d be right to do so. We’ve harped on consistently about the many benefits of flexible working and how a better work-life balance does wonders for mental and physical wellbeing. Fingers crossed this is indicative of a more permanent change in attitudes towards flexible working and is reflected by businesses.

It’s time to embrace the new way of working

The shift in how we work will mean that more people will now demand flexible working. We’ve seen that by investing in remote working tech such as conference calls and video calls you don’t have to hold meetings in the office for them to be effective. The utilisation of online meeting tools shows productivity hasn’t been affected but rather bolstered. There’s no reason for a company to not embrace and encourage flexible working, companies that can offer it, can’t afford not to, as people have become adjusted to a more flexible way of working.

We’re determined to keep banging the drum and see this as an opportunity for businesses to revaluate their working practices and get more in line with how their employees think and would like to be treated. Flexible working means a chirpier workforce, which in turn creates a working environment that people are proud to be a part of.

The key word here is flexibility, we aren’t trying to say that being in an office environment doesn’t have its perks. It’s finding a balance that is crucial to sustain a healthy state of wellbeing. Giving your workers the choice is what matters and demonstrating a level of trust that they don’t have to be in the office to benefit your business.

Andrew Johnson, PowWowNow Managing Director: “It is evident that flexible working does not negatively impact the productivity of a workforce, and actually not having to spend time commuting can improve the productivity of a team. It will take time for offices to phase back to normality; the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has had devastating consequences for lives and the economy, but it has also reminded us how important it is to take care of our mental and physical wellbeing.

Throughout the pandemic businesses have invested heavily in technology to enable employees to work flexibly, and now they must continue to offer their workforce the chance to choose how they work; whether that’s from the office, remotely or flexibly, in order to reflect the growing demand for flexibility and to reap the benefits of their workforce living a well-balanced home and work life.”

Survey information

  • Survey carried out by Censuswide of 2,000 office workers in January 2020
  • Survey carried out by Censuswide of 250 decision makers in May 2020