What is flexible working?

It is the flexibility offered on either where you work, when you work, or how much you work. Most people associate it with working part-time around childcare, but it can also be about supporting an employee’s needs or lifestyle.

Perhaps you want to work from home once a week to have a break from an arduous commute, or you want to work longer hours over fewer days to improve your work life balance, or to make time to study.

Remember: any employee with 6 months service has a legal right to ask for flexible working. 

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the UK was already seeing a slow growth in the number of employees working from home, with around 5% of the workforce reporting working mainly from home in 2019 and around 30% reporting that they had ever worked from home.

This increased rapidly during the pandemic, with 46.6% of people in employment doing at least some work from home in April 2020.

As a recruiter we recognise the disparity between what employers are offering and what job seekers are looking for, and we want to help drive change in the way people are employed.

Without finding a solution, employers are reducing the pool of talent they can tap in to.

A YouGov poll of more than 2,000 senior decision makers in UK companies found 55% expected an increase in the number of staff working remotely for part of the week.

Half of those polled said they expected more staff to work remotely all week.

We want candidates to start negotiating their flexibility like they would their salary.

Be flexible about flexibility

What we have found is there has to be some give and take between the job seeker and an employer.

Don’t expect that an employer looking for a full-time 9-5 candidate in the office, will be OK with you working 1 day a week, 6 months of the year, 100% from home!

Appreciate that they need to balance a reduction in hours with still getting the job done effectively, and they won’t want to overload the rest of the team.

Be willing to adapt your request to make it work for all parties.

Be creative with your proposal

If you want to work fewer days, then don’t feel you need to pitch it against childcare constraints. Get your employer listening by pitching it alongside how you will increase your productivity to reduce your hours. Or how working from home or fewer hours will create a saving in salary and overheads, which can be invested in to additional support for the department, to make up any shortfall in workload.

Of course, across industries the ability to offer flexibility can differ greatly. It still may be worth thinking creatively about solutions. For example, finding the right person to job share a full time role with.

Finding a flexible solution can improve the work life balance of employees. We know that a happier workforce means increased productivity and better staff retention.

As recruiters we will be working on highlighting flexible options in job descriptions, and identifying opportunities to break the 9-5 norm to change a system that currently isn’t working for everyone.

If you are looking for job opportunities or you an employer with recruitment needs, call us today on 01743 211115.