Once little more than a pipe dream, flexible working is slowly becoming a reality for much of the UK’s workforce. The modern work paradigm is undergoing a massive shift, whereby sitting at a desk in an office from 9 to 5 is no longer the default in a growing number of organisations.
In essence, flexible working simply refers to any variation in working pattern that differs from the typical standard. For some, this could mean starting and leaving the office earlier, or working from home a few days a week.
Businesses ought to take note, as more and more people are on the hunt for job opportunities that offer a better work-life balance; and according to recent research by Know Your Money, people are willing to walk away from an employer that doesn’t satisfy this demand. One in three (29%) of full-time workers in the UK have left a job in the past 12 months for lack of flexibility.
Employers need to realise that when it comes to retaining top talent and keeping workers happy, they must appreciate the fact that many people are juggling responsibilities beyond work. For instance, they could be looking after elderly relatives, pursuing further education, or simply engaging in a hobby.
In light of this, it is up to employers to lay down the groundwork to ensure that workers are in a position to choose schedules that accommodate their other commitments.
How desirable is the notion of flexible working?
Know Your Money recently set out to find out how much emphasis workers place on flexible working. We surveyed more than 2,000 UK adults in full-time or part-time employment to shed light on their attitudes towards workplace arrangements.
The standout takeaway from the research is that employees are seeking greater control over certain aspects of their working lives, even if this means making sacrifices.
Almost half (49%) said they would be in favour of a four-day working week, even if they had to take a pay cut of 20%. The vast majority (75%) would also be in favour of a shortened week if they had the opportunity to compress their current number of working hours into fewer days.
So how are businesses adapting to these trends? Not very well, according to the Know Your Money research; half of those surveyed said they cannot work remotely when they want or need to, with similar numbers (46%) saying they have no flexibility in the hours they work.
What benefits are on offer?
The benefits of relaxing rules on working arrangements are tangible and wide ranging.
In 2016, Vodafone conducted a global survey of companies who had implemented flexible working strategies; 61% of respondents said this had led to increased company profits, four in five (83%) said it improved productivity, and the vast majority said it improved staff morale (76%).
These figures suggest that there’s a lot to be said for giving workers more control over how, when and where they work, which could ultimately translate into significant advantages for the organisation as a whole.
Indeed, recent Chartered Institute for Personal Development (CIPD) guidance noted many cases of improved motivation, creativity, mental wellbeing and productivity levels in its advice to businesses keen to explore the practice.
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