Written by Danielle Campbell, Research Director, Insights practice
As everyone loves a quiz, let’s start with a question:
What do you think flexible working is?
- Sleeping in
- Catching up on Homes under the Hammer
- Concentrating on work away from office distractions, at a time that suits you
- Allowing you to continue with a career you couldn’t do if flexible working wasn’t on offer
Answer: It can be all of the above, although A) is mainly extreme wishful thinking on my part. Most importantly, what it offers is C): continuing to work and progress in your career, at the same time as contributing to other areas of your life and wider society, whether that be parenting, other caring responsibilities, volunteering or studying.
Many of us already work flexibly. According to a 2017 survey by Timewise, 87% of all full-time employees work flexibly or would like to, and more than 6 in 10 employees (63%) already access flexible working. The idea of a traditional full-time job with no flexibility is disappearing. However, the recruitment market is yet to catch up. Just under 10 per cent of job adverts for ‘quality’ jobs (permanent roles which pay more than £20,000 FTE) are advertised with flexible working options at the point of hire. This imbalance suggests that people may be trapped in potentially lower skilled work because they cannot risk leaving the job which offers the flexibility they need.
So why should employers’ offer flexible working at point of hire? What can flexible working offer? From my experience working part-time/flexibly is not the easy option (sometimes to concentrate on work only would be a dream) but the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. There are (at least) four ways in which both you and your company gain from working flexibly:
- Efficient workplace: working reduced hours or flexible hours because you have to be somewhere else, means you become better at managing your time and probably more productive
- Loyalty: if your company is able to accommodate your requirements, you appreciate this and work hard for your company in return
- Perspective: work isn’t everything, sometimes a bit of perspective and time away from your desk can help you become better at problem solving, finding quicker solutions, coming up with new ideas and maintaining calm when in a crisis
- Improved health: a study by Durham University found that mental health, blood pressure, and sleep patterns were better among people who could determine their own working hours. The Timewise study found 14% of people also request flexible working because of a health condition or disability. During mental health awareness week it’s worth thinking about how to look after your mental, as well as physical health.
The days of 9-5 are long behind us already; the ‘flexible’ part of ‘flexible working’ is becoming redundant. Madano were voted in top 10 of small ‘Best Places to Work’ this year, and a flexible work culture is no doubt central to that. Let’s keep climbing to the top and keep using a modern and flexible approach to working as we go.