The facts: Why your business should embrace flexible working
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The facts: Why your business should embrace flexible working

6th August 2020
By Tom Ladle

In recent months we’ve seen our routines turned on their head, with many of us being forced to substitute the daily commute with the laborious saunter over to our home office. Does this drastic shift indicate a longer lasting trend in how we work, and will flexible working be welcomed across the board? We very much hope so and according to our 2020 flexible working survey nearly three quarters (73%) of UK employees feel that they would be more productive if they could spend time working flexibly.

Chaos in the commute

So why do people feel they would be more productive working flexibly? A reason many of us will be familiar with, the darned daily commute. Jam packed trains, crowds of people, awkward eye contact, the stress of running late, missing a train or factors out of your control can hinder your mood when you step into the office. Prior to lockdown 59 per cent of workers admitted they arrived at work stressed due to their commute at least once a week, with more than 6 in 10 (63%) having a commute of over 30 minutes. On top of this 40 per cent of decision-makers said the biggest benefit experienced during lockdown was being more productive due to the absence of their commutes.

The freedom to get ready and start work at your own pace is a contributing factor to employee wellbeing and productivity and one of the upsides of working from home.

A different landscape

One of our greatest strengths is the willingness and ability to adapt. Many workers are now accustomed to working flexibly and enjoy the many perks that come with it.

When lockdown began, it left many businesses scrambling to accommodate remote working, but now 72 per cent of decision makers now believe their business can adequately support their staff when working remotely. Lockdown has been an opportunity for business leaders to implement new processes, communication tools and software to future proof their business. Popular remote working tools available today such as screen share and video calls has the benefit of not always being in the same room as one another in order to see results. Even large-scale business events can be held virtually with the use of webinars.

What does this all mean in a post lockdown world? It means it’s going to be tougher to get employees to commit to the traditional 9-5 work schedule, commutes, and all when they’ve had a taste of flexible working. Initial concerns around flexible working had lack of productivity at the forefront. Now that it’s become a reality, that concern has in large part been proven wrong. Workers are now aware that they can still be productive, if not more so when they’re allowed to work flexibly.

The future is flexible (we warned you)

So now we know that flexible working increases productivity, it’s a given that it will be embraced with open arms, right? We wish it were that simple. Prior to lockdown only 4 in 10 UK businesses offered flexible working, so it would be optimistic to expect this to completely change.

What we do expect to see in an increased pressure from employees requesting flexible working. Many people have experienced the benefits personally and seen their work-life balance and productivity improve, so why go back to your old way of working? This is a great opportunity for businesses to re-evaluate their flexible working culture and how you manage your employee wellbeing, priming them and your business for success. Part of growing as a business is adapting to changing attitudes and if this means an increase in productivity then why on earth not?

Andrew Johnson, PowWowNow Managing Director: “The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has had devastating consequences for lives and for businesses. However, as we rebuild our country, the resultant shift to remote working can be used for good- businesses must embrace changing attitudes around flexible working and ensure employees have more options when it comes to when they work, and where they work from.

“PowWowNow encourages employers to listen to the ever-increasing number of workers who believe flexible working would not only improve their productivity, but also increase their wellbeing. If people can better balance work and life commitments, we will all reap the benefits from creating a happier and more fulfilled society. The 9-5 office-focused workday is gone, and it’s time to usher in a new, and better, future.”

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