Flexible working: What’s changed?
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Flexible working: What’s changed?

23rd July 2019
By Tom Ladle

Flexible working legislation was introduced a whole 5 years ago (time flies), to be precise in June 2014. So, what’s changed I hear you ask. We’ve got you covered, so buckle in for a whirlwind journey exploring the world of flexible working.

A quick refresher (Ahh!)

First things first, what is flexible working (no it’s not stretching at your desk in spandex) and what legislation was introduced in 2014? Flexible working comes in several forms but the nitty gritty of it is allowing staff to work in ways that is most comfortable for them. This means different working hours, working from different locations or job sharing if someone has commitments on certain days. For a broader definition check out our snazzy infographic here. Legislation was introduced in 2014, that gave all employees the legal right to request flexible working if they have been working for that employer for at least 26 weeks.

Oh, what’s occurring?

We are hip when it comes to flexi (abbreviation, oh yeah) work, we love carrying out surveys looking at how it’s impacting the business world. When the legislation was first introduced, we surveyed 2000 professionals. Our findings showed 52% of companies allowed flexible working, 38% didn’t and 10% didn’t know. Compare that to 2019, where 68% of workers are offered flexible working (result!).

Although, it’s not all fine and dandy. 32% of staff aren’t being offered flexible working (boo!), even though it’s their legal right. “Since 2010 the percentage of the UK workforce adopting smarter ways of working has not risen above 27 per cent.”[1] It seems some employers aren’t on board and don’t see what all the fuss is about feeling that flexible working leads to decreased productivity and less pay.

Conservative MP, Helen Whately recently introduced a flexible working bill in parliament on July 7th, 2019. She said that just 9.8% of jobs paying more than £20,000 are advertised as being flexible.[2] The bill aims to make all jobs flexible by default. If successful it will turn the tables, meaning it’s the company that must explain why the job can’t be done flexibly. Will be interesting to see how that pans out.

What do the people want?

Let’s hear from the staff shall we. In 2014, 46% of people said the flexible working meant cheaper office costs (everyone loves to save a little dosh). 42% said that a benefit was being able to pick their own working hours and 39% believed not having to face the daily commute was a fabulous reason for flexible working. Moving on to 2019 and people are just as chirpy about the benefits of working flexibly.

58% believe that technology can save businesses money, with the progress in online meeting technology it’s no surprise. Compared to 70% in 2018, 81% of people believe flexible working would make a job more attractive to them (flexible working, you saucy devil you). 35% of people would request flexible working over a pay rise, compared to 30% in 2018. The workers have spoken. The legislation may not have changed a great deal, but people’s attitudes towards the idea are changing, they’re cosying up to the idea. Why wouldn’t they? A scheme that allows them to work when they feel most productive and comfortable.

So, what’s next?

It’s safe to say that people are wanting to work more flexibly. With advancements in technology, it is going to become easier and easier. Soon you’ll probably be able to attend a meeting as a hologram, something previously imagined in Star Wars (or Star Trek for you Trekkies). Whether the legislation keeps up with the growing demand is one to watch.

If you’re keen to learn more or have been wondering, how can I implement flexible working? Then sign up to the smarter working initiative here, an initiative that aims to highlight how smarter working can benefit your business.

[1] https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2019/02/we-need-to-change-the-outdated-perception-of-flexible-working/

[2] https://www.personneltoday.com/hr/flexible-working-bill-opt-out-of-flexible-working/