Flexible working is becoming more and more popular as we strive to achieve our ideal work/life blend. You’ve likely come across the concept before, or perhaps even work a flexible schedule yourself, So, what’s it all about and why should we think about working more flexibly

What is Flexible Working? 

Flexible working is an umbrella term that includes a variety of working arrangements which allow employees a level of flexibility around how long, where and when they work. Types of flexible work include part-time working, term-time working, job-sharing, flexitime, compressed hours, remote working, hybrid working.  These arrangements may or may not be formal, it varies from organisation to organisation.    

The ‘right to request flexible working’ was introduced by the UK Government in April 2003.  This legislation currently applies to all employees with at least 26 weeks continuous employment and is not based on an employee's caring or parental responsibilities.   

Whilst this legislation has slowly brought positive change, boosted more recently by the pandemic, many individuals and organisations, such as CIPD (The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) are pushing for more, campaigning for the right to request flexible working from the first day of employment.  

Why does it work? 

Flexible working still feels like a relatively new concept to many of us, but all the evidence points towards it being the right approach to take, especially for today’s world.  A report compiled by Anna Whitehouse (known for the Flex Appeal campaign) and Sir Robert McAlpine indicates that the economic contribution of flexible working is £37billion a year. The report also forecasts that increasing the current flexible working rates by 50% could result in a net economic gain of £55billion and the creation of more than 50,000 new jobs.   

For individuals, the benefit of flexible working can be found in an improved work-life blend and better overall wellbeing.  It is far easier to excel at a job which allows you the room for your other responsibilities, lifestyle and interests.  Managing disabilities or long-term health conditions, caring for children or other family members, taking time for training, all these things are far easier to support with flexible working and it doesn’t come at a cost for business!  

How can you make changes? 

Start a conversation - begin by talking with your manager about your needs and speak to HR about how you could change your working patterns.  Once you have made changes, honour them! Make sure you keep to the commitments you have made but also be sure to keep your boundaries. Don’t respond to emails outside of your working hours, make sure that when you should be logged off, you are.  

Need a little inspiration and something to listen to when you take a break from work? Why not give our How To Be Happy At Work podcast a try?